With all their intricacies and delicately-formed patterns, you may think that Nuala O’Donovan‘s almost-monochrome sculptures have been 3D printed, as everything seems to be these days. The fact that they take their forms from the fractal patterns found in nature would support that theory, but each one of O’Donovan’s pieces is completely handmade. The porcelain sculptures, which feature spiny petal forms, grids, scales and other almost-regular repeating forms, take their inspiration from the patterns found in nature; O’Donovan has used pinecones, teasel flowers, coral and other items from nature to inform her pieces.
In this series, the sculptures take their form from the teasel flower.
Each element of the sculpture is made individually, as O’Donovan, who is based in Cork, Ireland, explains on her website. The final pieces are constructed in an “intuitive” manner, where the sculpture’s form is dictated by the emerging flow of the pattern rather than by a preordained plan. In this way, while she works with the regular patterns found in nature, her work simultaneously examines the irregularities that also characterize natural forms. Because each element is created individually, one sculpture can take weeks or even months to complete.
This series is based on the Banksia genus of wildflowers native to Australia.
This series looks a bit like an insect nest, but these were actually inspired by pinecones.
These pieces are based on the form of coral.
While it might not mimic a visible natural form, the Grid series calls to mind molecular structures.
The juxtaposition of the regular with the irregular, as well as her choice to allow the sculptures to evolve rather than forcing them into a preset form, reflects the processes of growth and life in nature: “The evidence of a response to random events visible in patterns in nature, is testament to the ability of living organisms to recover, to respond, and to continue growing and changing. It is the imperfections in the patterns caused by a unique experience that are evidence of the life force in living organisms.”