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How to analyse scale

Watch this to discover scale in Higher Art (and why big, or small, sometimes is better)

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Have you ever been confronted with something so huge in scale that all you can say is....wow.

You might have experienced this when standing before big buildings, the huge scale towering above you. Or you might have felt completely overwhelmed with the scale of a massive mountain.

Connect with that feeling for just a moment. How did it make you feel....what was the impact it had on you? Did it make you feel small and insignificant in comparison? Was the sheer scale....overwhelming?

Or let’s flip this round. Have you ever felt underwhelmed by the scale of something? As an Art student visiting Paris for the first time, I couldn’t wait to visit the Louvre and observe Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in real life. This masterpiece is one of the most visited, most written about, most parodied work of art in the world. So why did I feel so underwhelmed when I saw it? At only 77cm by 53cm it was so much smaller in scaler than I ever imagined it would be. But my logical brain knew the relatively small dimensions, but the popularity and world renowned legend of it had allowed me to build it up to be a much bigger, more spectacular and larger piece in real life.

Scale, whether large or small, has a massive impact on us.

Let’s try and get the measure of using scale in Art.

This is thinkfour.

I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see when I walked into the Scottish National gallery of Modern Art.

As I entered one of the rooms, an enormous five feet metre sculpture of a new born baby girl lay before me. Let’s take a look at ‘A Girl’ by hyperrealist sculptor Ron Mueck.

When analysing scale within a piece of artwork, the dimensions of the work must be considered. This sculpture, at 5 metres long, was almost 10 times the size of a human baby! But what was so intriguing was the fact that this was not just a sculpture of a baby girl, but of a newborn baby girl, who looked as though she had just been delivered from the womb. The huge scale was in direct contrast of the fragile vulnerability of this new life, lying helpless on her side. It made me consider – has the artist represented the baby in this scale as perhaps a representation of the massive, life changing event it is to give birth to a child and the huge responsibility that comes with it?

As a mother myself, I could feel myself connecting to this sculpture. But how could I connect to this giant monster of a baby? Because she wasn’t a monster in form, she was just a monster in size. Everything about her fine features, wrinkled face...the umbilical cord...all represented the perfect proportions of a real-life human baby. This realism made me connect, made develop empathy for this child. There was a stark reality to the artwork with a simultaneous overwhelming presence due to the scale.

As I delved deeper into Ron Mueck’s exhibition, I realised he not only scaled human form up, but also produced miniature representations of humans within everyday scenarios of modern life. They had an equally raw and memorable visual impact. He summarises his work. “I never made life-size figures because it never seemed to be interesting. We meet life-size people every day. Altering the scale makes you take notice in a way you wouldn’t do with something that’s just normal.”

Ron Mueck managed to capture my attention with both his huge and small scale pieces of work. It made me look at detail that I would otherwise have missed, and to view human form in different ways.

Perhaps I need to go back to the Mona Lisa and look again….

This was thinkfour, thanks for watching.

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