I started my artistic activity by the sculpture because I am naturally very sensitive to the contact with the material that generates volumes, shapes, curves.

I began by modelling the clay. My first sculptures were very figurative, mostly female characters. They allowed me to grasp the essential concepts of anatomy necessary for the understanding and representation of the human figure.

Figurative patined clay model face view of a woman lying on the side supports on his forearm and the other hand is in the hair - Sandrine Vallée

Then, my work on clay models has evolved towards a progressive abstraction in the treatment of the silhouettes. I simplified shapes, focusing on the movements, the curves. I wanted to suggest a dynamism which the clay sculpture would be a snapshot at a given time.

Patined clay model of a woman standing with a dress whose folds form a turning movement – Sandrine Vallée
Patined clay model rear view of a woman whose hair standing form a twist – Sandrine Vallée

Finally, I devoted mainly to the representation of faces with a form of surrealism that underscores the character's psychology. Through the representation of the features, I tried to translate the thoughts, the soul of the subject.

Surrealist clay model front view showing a black patined bald woman head with closed eyes wearing a high and large ocher patined collar – Sandrine Vallée
Surrealist clay model depicting a woman head whose hair have a rotational movement – Sandrine Vallée

I still very attached at the modeling of the clay. It is a flexible material which I appreciate the contact. It is an ideal support for thought on the subject and the form. I prefer the red clay because light plays better with volumes.

From the practice of modelling the clay, I have very naturally evolved to the stone carving. The approach changes because one moves from a work of sculpture by addition of material to a work of sculpture by removal of material and as error being hardly recoverable. Contact with the material is also different because it passes through carving tools. I started by carving limestone.

Limestone sculpture in progress of a woman standing with a dress whose folds form a turning movement – Sandrine Vallée

A chance meeting then prompted me to go to Carrara in Italy. It is a small industrial town on the edge of the Mediterranean sea. Its activity is entirely dedicated to the exploitation of marble, with its many quarries, its traders and its sculpture workshops.

Marble deposits are exploited since ancient times. They are whole mountains and quarries are as numerous at open sky than in the basement. One extracts a marble ranging from veined grey, mainly used by the building sector, to a very pure white, reserved primarily to sculpture.

Sight of a open-sky quarry of marble deposit in Carrara in Italy – Sandrine Vallée
Partial sight of open-sky quarries of marble deposit in Carrara in Italy – Sandrine Vallée

Marble traders operate on local trade as well as on import and export marble from around the world.
There are many sculpture workshops in Carrara and its surroundings. They work essentially on command to respond to specific requests, make copies of often famous sculptures or run subjects based on models. These workshops also accommodate sculptors of all nationalities who come on place to run their own projects. So I started to work in Carrara.

Statuary marble sculpture in progress on its socle of work representing a high collar and wide – Sandrine Vallée
Statuary marble sculpture in progress side view showing a high and wide collar – Sandrine Vallée

Then I was offered to participate in the achievement in collaboration of a monumental sculpture in marble at Carrara. Broad outline of the project were already in place and forms roughly trimmed for most.

Monumental sculpture in Carrara marble front view representing several characters whose bodies are outlined – Sandrine Vallée
Monumental sculpture in Carrara marble rear view representing several characters whose bodies are outlined – Sandrine Vallée


Therefore, my role consisted in working on the existing elements taking their philosophy into account to embodied them through clay models at the scale. They are then used to be transposed in direct carving into the marble of the sculpture.

Surrealist clay model representing a human head covered with dragonflies posted at the back of a monumental sculpture in Carrara marble – Sandrine Vallée

I mainly worked on heads. In agreement with the general philosophy of the project, the faces that I've developed have evolved to a growing surrealism. I dug then cut the visages up to, sometime, leave only remnants of masks. The vacuum thus created became finally more significant and expressive than the full parts.

Surrealist clay model front view showing a head of Christ, whose face, covered with strips is cut and hollow – Sandrine Vallée
Surrealist clay model side view depicting the face of a woman figurate by a mask which part is missing (eye and mouth) – Sandrine Vallée

My last thoughts have induced me to associate the sculpture with other modes of artistic expression. This can be in the proper sense, as in the development of the painting-sculpture (in french), or by initiating a dialogue between sculpture and painting in the paintings associated with sculptures (in french).

In addition to the monumental sculpture project which is not yet completed, I am currently working on sculptures in relation with my drawings. Shapes and curves purifie themselves close to abstraction.

I invite you to follow the evolution of my work and to accompany the latest developments.

I also invite you to discover other materials of sculpture with the aluminum sculptures and resin sculptures of Natalie Croiset.