Inside Out: a process for production by Jane McAdam Freud

On consideration, this as an artists' paper should maintain a loyalty to the medium. My aim is to make the visual language the dominant one by showing images explained with captions, in so far as possible.

My original presentation was accompanied by video footage showing the process for a work I made in plaster for the conference. I chose the medal as medium and to document both the thought process and the technical processes that gave rise to the piece. In keeping with my predilection for the commemorative, the resulting medal is my way of recording the conference.

I began without pride or prejudice as we may do today, by searching variations on the title of the conference on the internet. 'Plaster casters', 'plaster casting', 'plaster casts'.

When searching 'Plaster Casters,' the overwhelming results for all seventy four pages were for 'Cynthia Plaster Caster', a recovering groupie who makes plaster casts of appendages attached to rock stars etc and related activities. Not exactly what I expected, but an intriguing lead!

I have a limited penis plaster cast collection myself. These were not casts made by me however but were sent to me through the post by a respectable fellow sculptor whose initials can be found under the Queen's effigy on our current coinage.

1 Plaster penis group
My other collection is of Renaissance plaster medals. Among these is one of Matteo di Pasti's elephants. The elephant, often associated with memory is especially symbolic for a medal whose function is to commemorate.
2 Renaissance plasters
This piece '1+1' was made as a metaphor for the therapeutic process. It was shown alongside Freud's couch at the Freud Museum during my exhibition Relative Relations. This exhibition in triptych, travelled symbolically from Freud's death place (now the Freud Museum, London) to the Museum Novoji?ínska in Pribor (Czech Republic) which was Freud's birth place. Finally it was shown at the Harrow Museum in the locality of my current home and studio.

3 '1+1', raw clay, 2006... Freud Museum

Interestingly the piece was requested to be covered by viewers at the suburban Harrow Museum. The linen fig leaf was not ultimately enough. Finally the whole piece had to be covered and shown with a warning notice to advise of the adult content. Considering the piece was very much about repression it was indeed a very Victorian solution!

4 '1+1', 2007, Harrow Museum

Medals have two sides with which to tell their story. Bill Woodrow's "My World" 1997 shows this process quite clearly and it also serves to illustrate my title - Inside out a process for production.
5 Bill Woodrow, Our World, 1997, bronze medal
I decided to reclaim Matteo di Pasti's elephant from 1446 for the obverse of my Conference Medal. The two sided form of the medal serves in uniting two ideas. In this case the history and tradition of the medium together with its use in contemporary practice. The image also utilises the elephant's symbolic significance in reference to memory - 'elephants never forget'.

My initial inspiration was the appendages. They led me to the fig leaf. The generic fig leaf operates as a symbol for a part hidden. In reality when the medal is lying on a surface one part is always hidden. However metaphorically, the reverse side with its fig leaf covering, leaves to the imagination the content beneath. Following the shrouding of 1+1, this project remains conceptually compliant with the rhythm of my practice.

The leaf in any case serves the elephant, providing 'food for thought'. Ultimately the vegetarian Elephant needs sustenance for survival just as the obverse and the reverse are interdependent in the form of the medal.

I settled on making a limited edition of 15 Conference Medals in plaster. Plaster is not generally used for the intended finished piece but rather as a stage in the process. These plaster medals were offered out at the conference to good homes.

6a Starting point (obv), .....Matteo di Pasti

6b Starting point (rev),..... ......generic leaf
A plaster cast taken from the leaf to form a negative mould.
7 Plaster cast from leaf
A wax pressing taken from the centre of the plaster negative mould.
8 Wax Pressing
The wax pressing attached to the obverse plaster. The blue wax sprue is shown welded to the completed master medal pattern.
9 Wax sprue (rev)
The medal pattern welded onto the base of the casting box so as to stand suspended vertically and centrally in the box with an opening to receive the rubber. The front and back of the box were subsequently sealed.
10 Casting box
Cold cure silicon rubber for filling the box around the completed medal pattern. (When set the outer box was removed and the rubber box cut open to remove the original master medal pattern).

11 Mixining Rubber
Rubber poured into the negative space providing the first of the edition.
12 Rubber mould
Final plaster (showing obverse and reverse) patinated with tea leaves, giving an autumnal glow to the leaf and preventing the occurrence of a white elephant.
3a Conference Medal (obv)

Condensed version of the paper delivered by Jane McAdam Freud

CONFERENCE TITLE: Plaster Casts: Making, collecting and displaying: from classical antiquity to the present

DATE: Sunday 23 to Thursday 27 September 2007
VENUE: Worcester College, and the Ioannou Classics Centre, University of Oxford.

Forthcoming publication by Frederiksen and Marchand 2008

3b Conference Medal (rev)