Sculptor Ray Haydon creates sinuous linear forms that respond to space, on a monumental and domestic scale, using an extensive variety of materials. Haydon uses the form of sculpture with its multiple vantage points to create his drawings in space. These open networks of linear abstract formations range from colossal outdoor sculptures to intimately scaled works for the interior. Through this unconventional use of sculpture, Haydon is able to draw organically in three dimensions. His work can be likened to the large-scale steel Abstract Expressionist works of eminent sculptor David Smith (1906-1965). Haydon’s current practice comprises a curving and rounding of form that is more fluid than some of his previously hard-edged angular works.
A key attribute of sculpture is that it is in constant conversation with its environment. Rather than aiming for a replication of nature, Haydon is concerned with the creation of forms that are pared back, encompassing a sense of the essence of nature and movement.
Haydon is currently working extensively with kinetic sculpture; works imbued with movement, and the ability to respond to the wind in innumerable shifting formations. Rather than looking at a static sculpture, the viewer is engaged in a dialogue with the organically animated work, as with Haydon’s recent monumental carbon fibre works Vesper andVela. Multiple pivot points enable Vela to split into separately moving sections, like a giant sail dwarfing viewers in its swiveling shadow. Vela references its southern constellation namesake, meaning the sails. Vesper,as its title suggests, arcs majestically towards the heavens. Vesper and Vela curl in a lyrical manner, their simplicity of line reminiscent of the work of seminal sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957).
Some of Haydon’s curling ribbon-like copper works from his Flux series and mahogany wall-based works take the form of Möbius strips; non-orientable forms having only one boundary component. A confluence of line gathers the viewer’s attention, swirling the eye up and around in a continuous curled path. Haydon’s recent hand-shaped mahogany wall-based sculptural works are reminiscent of ancient architectural frieze reliefs, predominantly made to be seen from a frontal viewpoint rather than in the round.
The soaring freedom of Haydon’s work belies the technical precision employed. Drawing on his background in industrial design, he uses an innovative combination of three-dimensional mapping and maquettes to aid the design process, particularly for his larger kinetic works. He also adopts fabrication technologies from a range of sources including boat building, jewellery design and furniture construction. While Haydon arranges, dismantles and remakes as he experiments with form, his works are always meticulously finished. Haydon is ever expanding his repertoire of media, featuring a range of industrial materials. Recently he has begun using carbon fibre in his larger kinetic works. Known for its light and durable properties, the unique strength-to-weight ratio of carbon fibre gives it an unprecedented spectrum of movement enabling a receptiveness to shift unpredictably with the wind.
Haydon’s linear sculptures create an ongoing and powerful relationship between the work, the viewer and the space they encompass. Through his visceral and exuberant sculptures, line comes to life.
Essay by Laura Howard
Born: 1950, Auckland
Collections: The James Wallace Arts Trust, Auckland
Public Exhibitions: Shapeshifter, Wellington (2016, 2014, 2010); NZ Sculpture OnShore, Auckland (2016, 2008); NZ Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke Island (2012); Sculpture Court, Auckland Art Fair (2011); Sculpture in Central Otago (2007)
Public commissions: Cable Bay Vineyard (2016); St Kentigern College, Auckland (2014)
Publications/Articles: Howard, Laura, Ray Haydon: Sculpture, Auckland: Sanderson Contemporary, 2014; Brown, Warwick, Seen this Century, North Shore City: Random House NZ, 2009; ‘Exploring space and absence’ by Terry McNamara, The New Zealand Herald, Aug 2009; ‘Earthy and Lyrical’, Art News New Zealand, Spring 2006, pg 128
Artworks featured in: The New Zealand Herald, Jan 2015; New Zealand House and Garden, July 2014, Dec 2012, Mar 2011, Jan 2010; Homestyle New Zealand, Issue 57, Dec/Jan 2014;Home New Zealand, Apr/May 2011, Feb/Mar 2011, Dec/Jan 2011, Apr/May 2008, Dec/Jan 2008; Best Houses of the Year, Winter 2013; Design Folio: New Zealand’s Definitive Design Collection, Issue 4, Spring/Summer 2011; Kia Ora, Mar 2011; Trends Renovation Issue, Vol 26, No. 7, 2010, Vol 25, No. 7, 2009; Sea Spray, Jul/Aug 2009; Alfresco, Mar/Apr 2009, Sept/Oct 2008; Urbis, Luxury Issue, No. 47, 2009; Sunday Star Times Magazine, 18 Jan 2009, 11 Nov 2007; Next, Oct 2008; Inside Out, May/June 2008; NZ Life and Leisure, Issue 17, Jan/Feb 2008; Reynolds, Patrick and John Walsh, New New Zealand Houses, Auckland: Random House NZ, 2007, pp 12, 164-172 (artwork feature Journey, Connection); New Zealand Home and Garden, Apr 2007; Urbis Landscape, Issue 7, Feb-Apr 2006; Urbis, Summer 2005-2006