Alastair Gibson’s God Save The African Queen: Cutting-edge carbon fibre art

Alastair Gibson is a successful and established UK-based artist creating anatomically correct sculptures of natural and human forms in carbon fibre.

He is innovating within his chosen medium to produce artworks that extend the capabilities of the material while considering wider discourses on development and change, exemplified in his compelling piece God Save The African Queen.

It’s not often that a ‘conversational piece’ truly lives up to its name. God Save The African Queen, a human skull made from solid carbon fibre with interactive features by pioneering artist Alastair Gibson, does. Its stark beauty is enough to arrest the viewer before taking into account its conceptual origins or the complexity of its configuration. And that is where Gibson’s talent lies, in simultaneously offering an artwork of aesthetic value, rooted in meaning and delivered with precision.

In essence, the piece is greater than the sum of its parts, however its parts are key to the story. Now in his 15th year as a full-time artist, Alastair Gibson also brings over two decades of engineering expertise, including 14 years at the height of Formula One, to bear on his creative process. His carbon fibre sculptures are unique in their use of genuine parts from modern Grand Prix cars to accentuate and embellish natural forms and probe at notions of evolution and iteration.

God Save The African Queen, which refers to Gibson’s childhood in South Africa and pays homage to the Ndebele, Xhosa and Lesotho nations, incorporates parts which perform vital functions in a Grand Prix vehicle. The eyebrows are gold-plated electrical terminals used in the battery system of a modern F1 car while the short hair is composed of Inconel nuts used to fasten the 1000°C plus exhaust system to a hybrid V6 engine. The sculpture also comes with six sets of interchangeable earrings evoking the significance of jewellery in African culture.

Alastair Gibson has transferred his talent for ingenuity (honed over years on the Grand Prix circuit as well as restoring and racing vintage motorbikes) to his chosen medium of carbon fibre. Expanding on his examination of the material in the

limited-edition sculpture series We Are All Made of Stars, the one-off God Save The African Queen pushes at the boundaries of composition in carbon fibre art. The piece is crafted from resin-impregnated carbon fibre sheets horizontally laminated to generate a tooling block from which the sculpture was fashioned on a 5-axis milling machine based on Gibson’s intricate design for the skull.

The result is a piece that displays carbon fibre in an original way, in both artistic and design terms, which Gibson will be incorporating into further work in 2023 when he will be unveiling his boldest and most challenging sculpture to date. The gently oscillating waves visible in the presentation of the solid material, the effect highlighted further by the lacquer finishing, lend a brutal majesty to the artwork befitting of its name. God Save The African Queen is an acknowledgement of our origins, both in its structural use of carbon and its focus on the geographical cradle of humanity.

“Lay on your back in some soft green grass when the sky is clear and look up at the night, take in the stars,” encourages Gibson. “The same carbon in these second generation stars is what you and I are made from, then just think.”

Gibson’s exploration in carbon fibre is a celebration, both of the material he uses and the infinite wonder and variety found in the world. This open dialogue between artist and medium, creator and appreciator, is played out in artworks which investigate, with integrity and tenacity, the art of the possible. By choosing to work with carbon fibre, using the very building blocks of life and what he also describes as “a material for the future of mankind”, Gibson is also delivering an exercise in self-awareness and forward thinking to challenge us all.

Opened in 2022, ArtÓ gallery is born out of 30 years of love for art, a belief in the enabling power of human connections and a certainty that work without inspiration is an empty task. Every piece of art in the collection is ‘owned not loaned’, bringing a fresh take on art appreciation that places emphasis on enjoying art at leisure.

Encouraging visionary artists is at the heart of the ArtÓ mission and the gallery is proud to be working with Alastair Gibson. “Collaboration with Alastair has been an inspiration,” enthuses ArtÓ Founder Antony Finn. “As a young gallery having artworks by such a renowned and respected artist is a rare privilege and we’re delighted to see his practice moving in new and exciting directions.”

More information: @alastairgibsonofficial @artostow [email protected]

Image credit: Carlé & Moss

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