“All For One” The vibrancy of spring going into summer. “All From One,” was created after considering the molecular energy that we and everything around us are made from. I wanted to reflect nature in my figure, show our connection with it and bring it to the fore. At the same time I wanted to show the energy our bodies can display echoing that of plant life bursting forth, growing outward and eventually blooming. It’s how we can feel, not necessarily physically, but with moments in our mind, like elation, or literally bursting with life…or growth.
There’s a lyrical beauty in the figurative sculptures of Jonathan Hateley. Constructed out of hand-painted bronze and bronze resin, the pieces combine human movement with nature motifs. The elegant subjects are cloaked in leaves, webbing, blossoms, and more. They evoke unity with their surroundings, which are often among gardens or have the backdrop of a field or forest.
Hateley previously sculpted for models and effects in television and film while also creating props for musicals and operas. In 2003, he began to focus on his own work and perfected his process of casting limited edition sculptures that are each handpainted once formed.
While he has his technique down, that doesn’t always mean the concepts come easy. “I do like it when an idea comes from nowhere into my mind rather than having to struggle for days with my sketchbook to come up with something,” he tells My Modern Met. “Transience was like that. The blossoming cherry tree idea came to me while in a meeting at an opera company considering an exhibition in their auditorium.”
Another idea materialized while reading. “All From One,” he shares, “came to me while reading a Deepak Chopra book talking about ‘matter’ and that all of nature and ourselves are made from the very same ‘energy.’ I wanted to reflect nature in my figure, show our connection with it and bring it to the [forefront]. At the same time, I wanted to show the energy our bodies can display echoing that of plant life bursting forth, growing outward and eventually blooming.”
Hateley’s inspiration for each piece is as lovely and considered as the sculptures themselves, highlighting how concept and construction go hand in hand. Scroll down to see more of his work and learn about how they came to be.
There’s a lyrical beauty in the figurative work of Jonathan Hateley. The bronze sculptures combine human movement with nature motifs.
“Beginnings” Having found an image of the cross-section of a plant under a microscope, I got a contortionist to pose for me! My intention was to combine the two, with an unusual position and a cell like surface texture, to create a sculpture about nature, energy, and structure.
The artist also shares the inspiration for these sculptures.
“Bud” The start of my sequence has calmness, stillness, beginnings, and birth. As the title states, the figure also represents a bud. Having finished the figure, I began creating the new leaf surface, the recesses also formed part of the texture. I wanted the figure in a curled-up position, but one that couldn’t be maintained for too long, so the bud is ready to unfurl at any moment.
“Intertwined” A while before “Lockdown” became a frequently used word I had the idea to do a sculpture based on relationships. I wanted a climbing rose to be reaching upwards as a metaphor for a life together. There would be stems taking direct routes while others would twist and turn. Thorns would appear along the stems until occasionally a rose would be reached. As the lockdowns were put in place for the 2020 pandemic, not only was the progress of my sculpture affected, I began to see it as a celebration of togetherness, whilst many of us were kept apart.
“Ripples” The idea of “Ripples” came during a walk along the River Medway in England. Looking at the reflections in the water I thought to cause some ripples myself by throwing stones and taking photos. As well as those formed on the river, the ripples extended into an idea for a sculpture. An outstretched foot has perhaps caused the ripples which appear over her, a moment in time, which will gradually disappear. I have always loved the song of the same name by the band Genesis, which seems to be a metaphor for the transience of beauty and on reflection, seems to fit.
“Moonlight” After two sun sculptures, it felt like a natural progression to create a piece based on the moon. In the same way, the moonlight is suggested by a pattern of circles getting larger as they flow into the crescent dress. My “Moonlight” has a longing for something in the quiet darkness of the night, something she’s emotionally passionate about.
“Sunset” I experienced some wonderful sunsets on holidays in India. There was a comforting, peaceful atmosphere each evening while everyone watched. So I wanted my sunset to be more quiet and reflective, this time with circles getting larger as they travel down, the sun fading from the sky.
“Transience” I wanted to combine the story of Madame Butterfly, an opera I’d seen many times working for the English National Opera for a number of years, with the well-known cherry blossom of Japan. Their fleeting beauty provides a metaphor in Japanese culture for beauty and mortality.
“Imprinted” My figure rests in a place of tranquillity in the fetal position. I read that human fingerprints are formed when we are a tiny developing baby in our mother's womb. And so I used the fingerprint valley patterns of the whorls, loops, and arches to cover her, that make us unique.
“Releasing” I wanted to depict autumn in a positive way. For one, it has the colors of the falling leaves, which I could now paint. I wanted the autumn figure to be letting go of all the “baggage” that had been built up over time. A large expel of breath, ready to start again afresh. A time for change, to let things go, an autumnal drift, a return to the flow, releasing details, time considered, like blowing leaves, old and withered
“Sunrise” In reflecting nature in my sculpted figures, this time I wanted to suggest the rise and fall of the sun. “Sunrise” is a morning stretch, with circles symbolizing the sun, getting increasingly larger as they move up the figure, a day set with energy and optimism.
“Formed” “Formed” is the continuation of “Beginnings.” With the idea of plant life cells forever changing and going from one form to another it seemed natural to have a sculpture in one position and then another. Having seen Claudia the contortionist move from the “Beginnings”’ position and into the “Formed” one, I knew I had to sculpt both.
“Winter Facing” Winds rush, a biting chill, Nature strips, lattices exposed. Winter faced, preserving warmth, onwards and defiant…new growth will come.
“Withstanding the Fall” Gales blow, blustering by, and there she stands, caught in leafy blast, embodying nature, Autumn’s best, each steadfast in their defiant quest.