As seen in SNAP July, 2010.
Birgit was introduced to me earlier this year by my dear friend, Liz Mackay of Ambiance Consulting - I actually featured one of her pieces, "Floraform", as one of my eye candies of the week back in February. Since then, I have had the opportunity to get to know Birgit better and have seen the stunning new collection that she is launching; I am excited to announce that Meade Design Group - the blog has the first interview with the artist about her new pieces, complete with photographs and inside information - Enjoy!
"Known for her light, sensual, undulating forms, Birgit’s unique sculptural works are most commonly purchased internationally by art collectors and high-end interior designers. Her work is constantly evolving - from large-scale abstract pieces to fine objets d’art, each of Birgit Piskor’s pieces is individually created with exceptional attention to detail; no two pieces are alike.
Hardworking - and surprisingly strong for her small stature, Birgit channels the industrial essence of concrete into shapes and textures that defy the inherently rigid nature of the medium. The flowing organic concrete forms she produces are tactile expressions of transformation and visceral moments of beauty. Each handcrafted sculpture is constructed of only the highest quality materials that are both attractive to the eye and built to withstand the passage of time." - birgitpiskor.com
Iván Meade - What was your first experience with concrete?
Birgit Piskor - I would have to say that my first experience with concrete was when I consciously became aware of it as a thing of beauty rather than just the cold, grey, industrial material that parkades and sidewalks are made of. I was in my early 20’s, excited to be in Barcelona – young and completely ignorant of many things including the genius that was Gaudi. So when I came across his work for the very first time it was mind blowing! I remember feeling completely transfixed by it. It was as if I had accidentally stumbled into some inspired Gothic fairytale. The undulating organic forms, they were so sensual, so impossible. I couldn’t believe it was concrete!
Fine Sculpture by Brigit Piskor
Iván Meade - What made you choose concrete as your primary medium?
Birgit Piskor - I’m really passionate about my concrete! It appeals to me on so many different levels – it has an ancient history, it is of the earth, it is strong and enduring and, because it has no intrinsic form, concrete is also an incredibly versatile medium. By its very nature concrete embodies the transformative experience. It begins in a messy, wet, fluid state and becomes this solid, stone-like substance, hard and calm, cool to the touch. I love that!
Fine Sculpture by Birgit Piskor
Iván Meade -What inspires you trademark organic, flowing and sensuous forms?
Birgit Piskor - I’m very fortunate to have traveled to some amazing places and to live in an incredible part of the world surrounded by such intense natural beauty. And Nature is absolutely alive with ravishing lines and provocative curves. So seductive. Who can resist? And in this curved universe there is constant play and creative tension – a ceaseless becoming. This transformation is often terrifying, yet beautiful and absolutely necessary to life.
I also work from a strong sense of my own body and tend to see some element of the female form in virtually everything that I observe.
Fine Sculpture by Birgit Piskor
Iván Meade - Your sculptures are teeming with lavish and inviting textures. Why is texture such an integral component of your work?
Birgit Piskor - I remember, years ago, feeling a little uncertain about having people touch my work. They seemed to have this compulsive need to run their hands over my sculptures. It was fascinating because I could see that some people were obviously struggling with the conventions of gallery etiquette while others were unabashedly stroking everything! It made me nervous until I realized that they were actually paying me a very high compliment that it was in fact a form of communication – a communication not only between me and the view but also between the viewer and themselves.
Texture also gives an illusion of movement, and vitality – a visceral sense that a piece is just about to take on another form.
Iván Meade - Are there any sculpture artists whose work you admire?
Birgit Piskor - Absolutely! Barbara Hepworth would probably be first on my list. There is a meticulous purity and, I guess I would say, a certain concentrated stillness to her sculpture that really resonates with me. Her work is also incredibly tactile, rich with human emotion and physical sensuality. It’s so inspiring!
Isamu Noguchi is also on my list for his staggering craftsmanship, profound commitment to simplicity and the poetic suggestiveness of his forms as well as for his playfulness and the fact that he was able to bring modern sculpture into the realm of everyday life.
I also love Henry Moore’s work.
Iván Meade - How long does it take you to create a sculpture?
Birgit Piskor - It generally takes 2 – 6 weeks to complete a sculpture depending on the size of the piece. Now that’s not to say that I am working on a particular piece for that entire length of time but because my medium is concrete, after the initial work is done, a certain curing period is required. It is only after this chemical reaction is complete that I can apply the final finish be it additional colour, metal leaf, various waxes and oils – whatever it takes to bring alive the beauty and texture of a given sculpture.
Iván Meade - What type of concrete do you use?
Birgit Piskor - Over the years I have developed my own custom formula, one that affords me the most creative control and freedom while ensuring extreme strength and durability. I work to very exacting standards and my sculptures are built to last for generations. I’m also constantly on the look out for innovative new products, researching the most environmentally sensitive options. For example, I have recently begun using reinforcing fibers made of 100% recycled nylon from reclaimed carpets thereby helping to reduce energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and landfill waste.
Iván Meade - How are your sculptures built?
Birgit Piskor - Each of my sculptures is painstakingly hand built and begins with the fabrication of a steel skeleton, or armature, over which I apply successive layers of small hand mixed batches of concrete. Once the final form has emerged, the next important stage is to work the surface. Because this final stage is so crucial to the success of a piece, I will often pause at this point and spend some time reflecting on the form, intuiting my way towards what exactly it is that I am trying to communicate and how best to convey that by means of colour and texture. My process ensures that each piece is an inherently unique creation.
Birgit Piskor working in her Studio
Iván Meade - What puts the “Fine” in Birgit Piskor Fine Sculpture?
Birgit Piskor - You mean besides the fact that they are drop dead gorgeous??? Seriously though, I believe that one aspect that distinguishes my work are the results that I achieve by hand building each piece –a certain intimacy and honesty that arises. I feel quite strongly opposed to casting. In part my opposition is a reaction to what I find to be the distressing societal trend towards valuing lower cost over handcrafted artistry. But it’s mostly because I truly love what I do – the feel of the concrete in my hands, the physical interaction with the piece – there is a kind magic that happens. I rarely have a fixed image in my mind of the finished sculpture. I generally begin with more of a visceral impression of where I want to go. The final form gradually emerges and involves a sort of giving over, or surrender. The process becomes like a beautiful dance that constantly challenges the notion of what concrete can become.
I should also mention that each of my sculptures includes an exclusively designed signature plate as well as a signed certificate of authenticity.
Iván Meade - If you could pick one word to describe your work, what would it be?
Birgit Piskor - Wow, that’s a tough one to answer. I suppose if I had to choose, I would say sophisticated. Or alluring… captivating…. provocative… Do I really have to choose just one?
Art in Situ by Birgit Piskor
Space Designed by Susan Hargraves
Iván Meade - As a successful artist, are there any words of advice or lessons learned that you can share with working artists ready to take their art to the next level?
Birgit Piskor - I love my life and where it has taken me but it is definitely not any easy path to walk. Keep the faith, have courage, and work, work, work. Then work some more because there is no substitute for the growth and magic that happens when you are in process!
Iván Meade - What projects are you currently working on?
Birgit Piskor - I’m really excited right now to be working on a new line of objets d’art, a series of small scale sculptures that will be perfect for table tops and mantels.
Meade Design Group Studio
Iván Meade - What future projects do you have planned?
Birgit Piskor – There are so many images flooding into my mind at the moment! I'm really eager to start experimenting with some of these new concepts and expect that they will form the core of an exciting new body of work.
I'm also currently trying to secure a solo exhibition in Mexico City early in the new year - I'm over the moon about this potential opportunity!!
Relief Sculpture by Birgit Piskor
Iván Meade - You have already gone through many transformations with your work and found great success, what would you like your legacy to be?
Birgit Piskor - I was thinking the other day about my inability to have children and how my life doesn’t have that kind of continuity. Then it occurred to me that my sculptures will still be here for decades to come – they are concrete after all. The fundamentals of life, the pain and the beauty of transformation, cross international and cultural boundaries. I put so much of myself into my work, it is my hope that long after I am gone, whoever sees and touches my work will catch a glimpse of who I was and recognize some aspect of them selves in it.
I invite you to discover Birgit Piskor's work at her website
Ivan Meade is a local designer and principal of Meade Design Group, a multidisciplinary interior and graphic design studio in the heart of downtown Victoria – www.themeadegroup.com