Bachelor of Media Design Lecturer wins at RT Nelson Art Show
Long time Media Design School lecturer, Christophe Jannin, of the Bachelor of Media Design programme, has had work awarded at the R.T Nelson Sculpture Awards in Wellington.
We are proud of Christophe that his sculptures titled: King Midas, Renunciation on the Pactolus Riverbank; and Apollo’s Maturity; gained the recognition they deserve, with King Midas earning Christophe the Highly Commended Award for Excellence in Sculpture.
The RT Nelson Sculpture Awards took place over the weekend at the TSB Arena in Wellington. The RT Nelson Sculpture Awards is part of the New Zealand Art Show, the biggest National Event for Art in New Zealand. This show is all about small scale sculptures, not bigger than 1 metre.
Christophe showed two pieces at this show. Only one third of the 700 applicants made the cut, including himself with his two pieces: King Midas and Apollo.
Apollo is an older sculpture of Christophe’s, and presents the message that: whatever you do, you age, even if you’re a god – hence, Apollo’s Maturity. Christophe chose not to show Apollo his classic form, choosing to show him instead as an old god.
“It’s all about ageing and renunciation. A bit of self-reflection there. There’s always introspection in art, you always put a bit of yourself into it. I’ve accepted the fact that I’ve ageing. Midas, and Icarus reflects that and Apollo of course,” says Christophe.
Apollo was a bust originally. When Christophe was working on it in 2021, it fell and landed on its head, becoming flat like a pancake. Since it was life-size, Christophe refused to redo it. Instead, he remoulded the face and the ears and turned it into a mask. The big fall that destroyed the back of the head, forced him into another direction. When he did the mask, it made Christophe realise that he could do something else. He moved Apollo forward instead of back, and it changed the mood completely. It was a happy mistake and took him somewhere he wasn’t thinking about.
Christophe reflected on what he’d told his students “Don’t be afraid of making mistakes as you can always make something better. I’m learning all the time, learning about characters, techniques, mastering materials, sculpting can be like fighting sometimes. There’s a massive difference between drawing and sculpting, and I’m doing both. Drawing is mental, sculpting is physical, you move your whole body and even end up sweating.”
Christophe created Midas, from his research based around body positivity and gender positivity in art and sculpture. He wanted Midas as an older body, when one is no longer in their prime. It was inspired by one of his friends. Christophe asked his friend, Bernie, to be a model, with creative freedom through his poses and input. In fact, Bernie suggested that since Midas was throwing away a gift, he shouldn’t be looking at it and turned his head, and Christophe realised the powerful message that small change sent.
The Midas piece took Christophe 2 months to sculpt, which is only the beginning of the process, as he still needed to create a mould.
“The one thing I’m happy with, is that it carries the values I treasure: body positivity, gender positivity and figurative art. I’m not into abstract, and I’m happy to see that there’s still a place for figurative art. Something I’m very proud of is that I’m behind every step of the process. Artists like Jeff Koons, and Damien Hirst, I’m in total opposition to them, as I’m doing everything from A-Z -even the casts and the finishing,” says Christophe.
“I’m not just a concept artist, I consider myself as a ‘maker’. The act of making is important. And in my research, that’s also what I’m underlining. The making process is what allows me to own it, after the date finishes it then belongs to the audience. That’s why I own the process, because all through this time it’s mine, and that’s why I like to juggle multiple projects.”
In fact, Midas is the first of a series of 3 that Christophe has planned. The next piece of the story is Tubal Cain, the first blacksmith from the Bible, with the last piece being Hephaestus, god of fire; titled “The Three Alchemists”. This is important to Christophe due to its link to the Freemasons. “I always drop hidden messages in my work. Symbolism is important .The characters I’ve done so far focus on renunciation and abandoning things, because there’s no point holding on to things. Just let it go,” says Christophe.
There’s also another piece Christophe is working on that is linked to the theme of letting go – The Fall of Icarus. It’s a big sculpture, about a metre high, with feathers flying off the wings. It’s a huge project that started as a drawing, became an illustration, a 1.6 m painting and now a sculpture. It will be submitted to Christophe’s solo exhibition ‘Unusual Bodies’, either at the end of the year the beginning of next year.
One of Christophe’s biggest inspirations was his sculptor teacher, Charles Auffret, at College Art And Design De Reims. “There is always that one teacher that changes your life and for me that was Charles. He totally changed my life. He was amazing,” he says.
While Christophe was a student, he worked as a guide at the Reims Cathedral. Auffret was a sculptor in the 30s and had restored 2 sculptures there. One day, Auffret asked Christophe if he would take him up to to see the sculptures, as he hadn’t seen them 50 years. Auffret, went to his sculptures touched them and started crying.
“I wanted to be like that. Unfortunately now, I look like him. He wasn’t tall and had a beard like Santa Claus. But he was very talented, I have a book on him and Braincusi, a Romanian Sculptor, whom he worked with. People are important, as I show them in my work. Charles, Bernie, Patrick. People are always at the centre of my work.”
While Christophe is excited to have his work included at the RT Nelson Competition, he says, “I’m not competitive, in terms of the awards and prizes – I’m too old to care about that. If that does happen, if I get first or second prize, that’s icing on the cake. The fact that I finished it and get to show it is the true achievement for me.”
“I’m fortunate to be a lecturer here [at MDS], it gives me meaning. The research days have been helpful, which I use for ideating and sketching. You can’t do much sculpting in a day, so I do that on the weekend. It’s easier to stay in the zone that way. Teaching during the week at MDS, then weekend I use for projects. Sculpting takes a lot of time, and I’m a perfectionist too, so I want things to be the best. That can be a killer of a project, because there can always be improvements. All artists are like that. I like drawing, as long as I’m doing it I like it, the act of making is what drives me. When it’s finished I lose total interest, goes in the pile with my other stuff. I have a drawer at home with hundreds of pieces hidden away, many of which I’ve forgotten about.”
Christophe went on to explain one last project of his. He is working on a bust of Emile Gallé, founder of the Musée de L’école de Nancy, in France. Currently, at the Museum, there’s a bust of one of the major artists of the 1900s in the garden, but not the founder.
“I’m absolutely crazy about this artist, the way I’m thinking of a man, is the same as him. He’s a humanist. The founder of Musée de L’école de Nancy, doesn’t even have a bust as the creator of the movement. I’m expecting to finish this between March and June 2023, and send it to France to the foundry to be bronzed. It will be displayed at MDS before it goes.”
We are proud of Christophe, his work and his achievements and the amount of passion he pours into his lectures to inspire his own students. We are so glad he was recognised at the RT Nelson Awards and hope that he continues creating masterpieces. We look forward to welcoming the bust of Emile Gallé to MDS soon, too!