Johnny Turner sculpts from hard volcanic and metamorphic rock. Created over thousands of years from massive pressure and resultant heat, the formation of metamorphic rocks sees an initially soft stone transformed into another more refined form, of heightened purity and a phenomenally durable essential nature. Turner sees this transformation as being of powerful significance to his work and in the undertaking of artists to transform their raw materials into enduring objects.
Living and working in his Wellington studio, Turner is largely self-taught. Inspiration arises from his beginnings, the passage of time and the reuse of materials drawn from deep within the earth as well as an ongoing fascination and research into sources as diverse as classical history, indigenous mythology and the Japanese aesthetic. He often reinvents classical forms with his contemporary interpretation, referencing history, memory and ancestral provenance within each work, creating works perfectly poised in space or emerging upwards from the earth.
Turner works with and against the notions of hardness, weight and coldness of marble and stone to bring out the soft detail and colouring of each unique piece – graduating grains, soft, speckled colourings and contrasting textures. The natural properties of each individual stone is retained and enhanced by allowing the form to 'reveal itself'. Recently, flowering forms and cocoon shapes have emerged suggesting the release or flourishing of something from within an encasement and ideas of resurrection and rejuvenation. Notions of 'flight' are seen in the lightness of forms and removal of mass from the base, removing a limiting sense of heaviness from the stone and completing its transformation.
Turner's passion drives him to undertake works of a monumental weight and scale. The artist's attention to detail and his love for surface ensures each piece is perfectly finished after many hours of hand polishing, a practice which subtly enhances the tactile properties of the stone. The sleekness of these works and their precise balance serves to make them undeniably man-made, but the smooth, curving forms and seductively tactile surfaces refer to an ideal of organic perfection – the unquestionable beauty to be found in the forms of nature.
Awards and distinctions
Invited Exhibitor - 'PERSONA. A Tribute Exhibition dedicated to John Bevan Ford'
Premier Award, Manukau, Auckland Sculpture Awards
2004 – 2006
Invited Exhibitor - Shapeshifter, Lower Hutt
First prize, New Zealand Sculpture Award, Waikato
Kupenga International Sculpture Symposium, New Plymouth
Finalist, COCA (Centre of Contemporary Art) Art Awards
Winner, Forsyth Barr Canterbury Art Award
International Stone Symposium, Roundtop Centre d'Art, Maine, USA
Tareitanga International Sculpture Symposium, Wellington
Winner, Waikato Outdoor Sculpture Award
Gold Medal, Sculpture Feature, Mercedes Benz Marquee