Artist Statement on Sculptures by Donna Williams

I had always loved sculptures, these non-moving, uninvasive representations of people caught in movement, in reflection, in emotion. Part of my Autism, however, involved a crippling degree of Exposure Anxiety, compelling me to avoid, divert or retaliate against the invasion of getting praise or attention (although in itself Exposure Anxiety responses can attract a lot of attention!). This meant I was unable to dare try sculpture until I was well into my adult years, in other words, I didn't see I had this in me, nobody did. Then, as with the keys of the piano, and the writing of Nobody Nowhere in 4 weeks, I touched clay and sculpture emerged.

The first work, a medium sculpture called Simply Being, was completed in two hours and stunned the class. The second was also done in two hours. There was no thought. They just emerged as if the sculpting process simply used me rather than me using it. The third sculpture was the life size woman you see on this page which features in my life sized sculpture collection and is called My World-The World. When I began to sculpt her I had been in 2 hour a week sculpture classes for 6 weeks (12 hours sculpting experience).. She took a little more than 128 hours in total, that is 2 months and six days at two hours a day. Like many people called Autistic Savant, the astounding level of these skills appeared to come out of nowhere, as if they were somehow instinctive, just waiting for the right moment to burst out. Then later, paintings emerged the same explosive way. Nobody would have foreseen this as I was growing up. My greatest talent appeared to be that of being 'nuts'.

When I wrote Nobody Nowhere I needed to stand outside of me and experience where I'd come from and where I was now. To keep something of where and what I'd left behind and know I had done so with love and passion and respect. When I did my life-sized woman: My World-'The World', I held her outside of me, lost in her own world unaware she was closing out the world about her, even me. Blinded by her own resolute passion for her own world, she holds the external world at bay she is unaware she is not 'invisible' as she imagines, but completely exposed for all to see. Who I was, compelled by and lost in my own world, I can let go. I don't need to remember. She remembers for me.

My World-'The World' was cast in bronze and featured on the Midlands News Report and in the newspaper in the UK. I was asked how long I'd sculpted. I had spent many years in the cemetery, feeling the stone people sitting there over the graves, sitting with them, feeling their faces and seeing their wholeness, their bodies, their emotion through my hands. She was my third sculpture ever. I had been in the class for six weeks. She took two months and four days to sculpt. She was born of a lifetime of experience and emotion embodied in this work.

My other life sized work, a boy, entitled 'The Last Step' is the second of my life-sized bronzes. He is the realization of a painting I did ten years ago of a small boy. It is the image of a child who had lived his life in the darkness under the ground, representative of being stuck in a preconscious state in which one 'is' but cannot objectively conceive of or reflect upon one's experiences. He has clawed his way blindly, higher and higher going by only the feel of warmth and the promise of light coming from above. The sculpture depicts the last step, when he emerges fully reaching up blindly to touch what had called to him; the light. The other sculptures featured are a range of smaller dynamic works ranging in size and to me these are like tangible three dimensional poetry. They speak of self ownership, of simply being, of internal challenges and states of intensity, passion, fear, simplicity and realness.

Temple Grandin says she thinks in pictures. My visual world was so fragmented for most of my first three decades I didn't have that luxury. You can't think in pictures when you can't see objects as a whole and you can't process them in relation to the context you find them in. I don't think in pictures. My world is about movement, form, pattern.

I'm a kinaesthetic learner; I learn through doing, through movement, through texture, through handling my world physically. I'm often as meaning deaf as I am meaning blind. I feel when a sculpture is 'done' more than I see whether it is. For me, movement and form is a language that speaks of the inner world of a character. That's what you'll find in my sculptures.

All of my sculptures are available for sale but I am of course simply glad you came and had a look at my Online Gallery.

Thank you for visiting.


Donna Williams *)

© 2004 Donna Williams.