Toby Short is a UK born sculptor and mixed media artist. He graduated from Camberwell School of Art with a degree in Fine Art Sculpture BA (Hons) in 1989 and spent an early period as a professional sculptor for films, theatre and television. Since 1994 Toby lives and works in Athens Greece where he finds the greater part of his inspiration.
Toby has experimented with social sculpture, performance, installation and design and works with a variety of materials including clay, wood, wire, polystyrene, cloth, found objects, and re-cycled machinery.
He has participated in the National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens ‘Expanded Ecologies during a time of Emergency’ (2009), ‘Where is the Art?’, ReMapKm parallel projects, Athens Biennial 1 (2007) and more recently took part in ‘No Country for Young Men: Contemporary Greek Art in Times of Crisis’ at Bozar Palais des beaux-arts Brussels (2014). He was commissioned to create interactive kinetic light installation ‘earthnet’ at the Magna Science Adventure centre in Rotherham, Sheffield (2001). His first solo show was at Agathi gallery, Athens in 2002.
about the work
Toby’s main area of interest is in relief sculpture which he sees as a window into the inner self. These reliefs take various forms, from abstract to representational but always containing the elements of depth and perspective to draw the eye in. Influences within his work include the gloomily-lit theatrical scenes of Gustave Doré, improvised tableuax of photographer Boyd Webb, literary sources such as TS Elliot’s Wasteland and Ian McEwan’s Cement Garden and the contemporary Pop reliefs of Ron van der Ende.
The subject matter of his sculptures has varied over time. Currently the pieces he makes show a miscellany of images taken from everyday experience, the media and from his walks in Athens. A haptic aggregate of sculpted and painted surfaces showing everyday stuff and modern calamity juxtaposed as Oxymora of a pseudo-classical aesthetic, the grim and the barren beautified.
In other works digitised nature is manifest as crystalline, multifaceted, ad-hoc structures some of which appear to emerge from the flatness of the wall and in the absence of symmetry, what seems to have evolved from mathematics actually results in a serendipitous spirituality.
Building excavations photographed around Athens are brought to life in ‘holes’ a series of large-scale painted plaster reliefs. They show views which both intrigue and repulse simultaneously by revealing hidden scenes, behind hoardings and sandwiched in the depths between tall buildings. Inaccessible to the public this anonymous auxiliary space remains like an oasis in the city where the complexities of everyday living are stripped away to reveal the raw material of everything; space and nothingness, like empty portals to a different unmade world, denuded of civilization but resonant with an air of expectation.
Toby’s underlying ideas have been enriched by experiences of other creative practises over the years and his approach has become synthesized. From an exploratory point of view, collaborations with other artists involving performance, installation and speech have been indispensible, being rewarding from a socially interactive point of view and also enabling him to re-consider sculpture as something with a dynamic in more than just 3 dimensions.