Sculpture is one of the oldest art forms. Humans carved figures and animals in stone more than 30,000 years ago. Over time a variety of sculpture techniques developed, using different materials. Starting with carving figures or reliefs in stone or wood, later, soft, plastic materials, such as clay, were also used. This included the making of moulds in clay or plaster for casting sculptures in metal. In the early 20th century, the technique of assemblage was introduced, using made or found objects to create a three-dimensional work. Since the mid 20th century, sculptors have also been experimenting with fast degrading, perishable materials and substances. The examples below illustrate how wood, stone and metal have been used to create sculpture and three-dimensional artwork, and how the making of sculpture evolved in the later 20th century by using entirely new approaches, techniques and materials.
image: Derek Balmer, Photograph of the sculptor John Huggins working in his studio, 1970s (Mb7403.03)