Although she is not a musician, sculptor Charlotte Bakker says music is a vital part of her practice. “I see great synchronicity between music and sculpture in terms of form, harmony and rhythm,” she explains. “Rhythm is the connecting thread for me. Rhythm exists in music, in sculpture, in the human body: magnificently, in all the natural world.”
The influence of music, particularly classical, jazz and instrumental music, flows through Bakker’s solo show Resonant Forms. But the artist makes it clear that her work should not be read as an attempt to capture the fleeting quality of music directly. “A sculpture can be musical without being of music,” she says, “and I think that’s an important distinction to make. Music is ephemeral, yes, but it is also very physical. It is quite literally made up of vibrations we receive and feel in our bodies. It doesn’t occupy the same physical space as sculpture and yet both mediums have a very real presence.”
Bakker uses the linear quality of welded steel bars in a process that she describes as “drawing in space.” Yet she doesn’t do preparatory sketches. “The process of composing a sculpture is very similar to composing or improvising a piece of music; selecting and pairing elements, seeking a sense of rightness and harmony, feeling which ‘notes’ or sculptural elements complement one another and which are discordant,” she says. “Welding is very direct and for me captures some of the immediacy of drawing. Working fluidly, the sequencing of elements can feel as immediate as making a series of marks on paper.”
In fact, after completing a sculpture, Bakker is sometimes compelled to draw it, rather than the other way around. As she points out, “The relationship between drawing and sculpture, and how they influence one another, is very interesting. Both are ways of seeing.”
This article was originally published in the July/August 2019 print edition of Art Guide Australia.