WATCH: This artist uses lava from active volcanoes to make sculptures

2018-03-01 20:00 - Gabi Zietsman
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Vimeo/Leah Mersky

Cape Town - Some artists go to extreme lengths for their art, but this British artist is getting a few burnt hairs for his work.

Danny Osborne is best known for his arctic paintings and sculptures, specifically his Oscar Wilde Memorial in Dublin that was unveiled in 1997, and currently is the only artist to have ever figured out how to mould sculptures using liquid lava from live volcanoes.

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"My interest in lava started over thirty years ago after spending six months painting volcanoes in the Andes of Northern Chile, which has the largest concentration of volcanoes in the world. Fascinated by natural lava forms and the potential for lava as sculpture, I experimented with melting rock in my studio furnace," writes Osborne on his website.

"This resulted later in two trips to Volcan Pacaya in Guatemala, where I was eventually successful in casting lava into sculpture from an active flow using moulds; probably the first person to have done this. Subsequently, I spent six months in Hawaii on the Volcano Pu?u ?O?o, near Kilauea continuing to develop my technique. The technical challenge of working with lava as well as the symbolism of the material continues to excite me."

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Osborne told Atlas Obscura that it's not easy to get access to an active volcano, and tried for years to get permission to work from a Hawaiian volcano. After he did some work on Pacaya - which erupted soon after he finished his work - he got the opportunity to buy some land next to Pu?u ?O?o.

So far he's made 40 sculptures into baby bottles, conquistador helmets and even a bible from a wooden mould that burst into flames, but only 25 have managed to survive coming down the volcano. So far he hasn't sustained any injuries working in this hazardous environment, except for a few burns.

His lava sculptures formed part of an exhibit called 'Landmarks and Lifeforms' alongside Irish artist Frieda Meaney and was showcased in February at a gallery in Drogheda, Ireland.

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You'll feel hot by just looking at this video: