The night Donald Trump was elected US President, Michael Harrell’s thoughts turned to clay.
What resulted is a sculpture that is one of only 46 finalists from 675 international entries in a Sydney competition feted by Australian and international artists.
The 15 year old student at The Armidale School said he was “surprised and delighted” to learn last week that his sculpture of the President will be exhibited alongside those of professional artists in the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize, and is up for a share of $24,000 in prizemoney.
“I was doing pottery on the night he was elected and my teacher Rick Hatch suggested he could be my next project. So I gave it some thought, and it went from there,” said Michael, who began taking lessons from Hatch as a six year old, and then from aged eight, at TAS with Hatch and his wife Suzanne Forsyth Hatch.
Called ‘The Donald’, the work depicts the President in press conference pose, his long fingers making characteristic Trump gestures.
“I started on his head and build the body from there. I didn’t want to portray him in too sinister a way, but did think the idea of him standing on the US flag was an interesting comment,” the Year 10 student said.
Michael estimates the work took two or three hours a week for six months, to be completed.
“I have done depictions of people before but this was the first meaningful one of someone living. When I finished it, Suzanne told me about the competition so we both entered works in it, and we were delighted ‘The Donald’ got in.”
Suzanne Forsyth Hatch said it was a great achievement for Michael, who has continued working with clay and attending classes with great enthusiasm, developing skills with which to express his fertile imagination.
“Michael has always shown a great empathy with theatre and in the last year or two with his growing maturity has found that through the medium of clay, exploring and developing his unique techniques, he can use his theatrical imagination and penchant for humour very effectively,” she said.
The work (which is for sale) will go on display at the historic Woollahra Council Chambers in Double Bay, Sydney, from Saturday 14 October – 5 November. https://sculptureprize.woollahra.nsw.gov.au