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Sculpture (MA)

Rachel Bungey

Rachel Bungey (b.1992) is a London born and based artist. Her art explores the interconnectedness between humans, non-humans and technology.


Visual Communication at Nottingham Trent 2011 - 2014

Sculpture at Royal College of Art - 2021 - 2023

Selected Exhibitions:

Annely Juda Fine Art Gallery - July - August 2023

Brink at Royal College of Art - May 2023

Two Day show at The White Space - April 2023

2030 Collective at the Royal College of Art - December 2022

Beyond Mountains at Coningsby Gallery - April 2022

Penumbral Zone at Gallery 46 - April 2022

SET Studios - February 2022

Degree Details

School of Arts & HumanitiesSculpture (MA)RCA2023 at Truman Brewery

Truman Brewery, F Block, Ground, first and second floors

plant based resin abstract wiggly sculpture based on a twisted whale jaw, floating in corn syrup

Examining our relationship to the natural world, I focus on concepts of animism, extinction, scale and temporality. I question how we can use modern technologies to restore our connection with nature by studying the entangled relationship we have with the non-human world and our ecology. Using hypermodern technology I construct hybrid animal anatomies that are extensions of those found in our natural world, for example, a 3D-modelled, CNC-cut sculpture comprising the bone of a whale jaw and a praying mantis arm. Our interconnected relationship with the digital world is a recurring element within my work, exploring new technologies such as 3D printing, 3D sculpting, AR, VR and robot arms. I also use painting and carving as a meditative part of my practice. Using my research on mimicry in nature to inspire abstract form, I am interested in whether this is able to create a feeling of interconnectedness between humans, nature and technology.

Wooden bone like sculptures
Wooden bone like sculptures

Works inspired by Rachel’s research into natural history; bones are the framework upon which our bodies are built, exemplifying both fragility and resilience. Housing our organs and allowing us to move; tender and delicate yet sturdy and unyielding, our bones are our fundamental architecture - our structure, our core. Long after we depart they endure, connecting us to the animal kingdom and our ancestral lineage. In their fossilised state, bones become storytellers of the past, allowing us to unravel the narratives of our human and non-human predecessors. Through the study of skeletal structures, we gain a visual representation of the direct mimicry found within living organisms, for example the shapes found in our rib cage can be found across many species, exposing the magnificence of organic design. 

This project integrates a seven-axis robot arm and traditional craftsmanship to create sculpture. The robot arm was digitally programmed to carve the sculptures using 3D scans of logs of wood then crafted by hand, leaving details of the robot arm touch - preserving the connection between artist and machine. The spalted wood, originally collected in Sheffield and dried for over 12 years, bears witness to the captivating stories of fungal colonisation. The fungi, extracting nutrients from the wood, leave distinctive and unique marks. 

Large scale bone like sculpture made of Whale jaw and mantis arm on light box
Large scale CNC cut and carved sculpture. It has been made and displayed in various forms - in poplar wood at at around 60cm, and foam cut and coated at 120cm.

This hybrid form combines the jaw of a whale with the arm of a mantis. The whale, with a lifespan nearing a century and the mantis living for just one year, contribute immeasurably to the ecosystems they inhabit, whilst human activity jeopardises the existence of both. The viewer is confronted with a reflection of our own impact on the world and the need for greater responsibility to preserve it. As these two seemingly disparate species unite in a single form they represent the paradoxes that exist within life - the whale embodies strength and endurance while the mantis exudes grace and lightness; the whale journeys vast distances whilst the mantis remains mainly motionless. The piece invites the viewer to ponder the ways in which we can learn from these fascinating creatures and in turn preserve their place in the world, as well as ours.

Warped Beetle photography
Photography in collaboration with the Natural History museum.
Warped Beetle photography

Taurhina (Neptunides) polychrous fasciicollis – it is named “Neptunides” because the head of the male is said to resemble Neptune's trident. These beetles adapt to their environment in chromes, their surface mirroring their surroundings. Some scientists believe beetles developed metallic colours that mimic the appearance of raindrops on leaves to help them camouflage - warping, misshaping, distorting perspective to protect themselves. Can we mimic water like the beetle in our minds? We warp, misshape, distort to camouflage also, perhaps for protection too.

Microscope Mantis Skin photography in blues and purples

Engrossed by her mesmerising skin that lay limp and motionless, through prolonged observation, I sought to replicate the mantis's embodiment of balance and focus. The mantis is a revered symbol of stillness across many cultures, shedding the walls that house her, enabling renewal each time. My fascination for mantises was heightened when examining her skin closely. Her delicate velvet-like exterior contrasted with protective spikes. These spikes resonated with me; as a woman I sometimes feel we need spikes. Perhaps the mantis is also a symbol of protection and self-preservation: do these spikes represent the inherent strength and resilience present within all females? The exploration of the mantis and its significance speaks to our timeless connection between the natural world and the human experience and the profound beauty that can be found within both.

photo of plant based abstract shape resin sculpture in corn syrup
Beetle horn photograph that looks like a whales tail
dark blue abstract painting of bone like objects
White background with black scribbly painting which sort of looks like a female body and some sort of animal spikes
Her Bones - a sculpture inspired by a mythical hybrid form comprising of a whale jaw and a mantis arm
abstract sculptures behind magnifying lens'
photo of plant based abstract shape resin sculpture in corn syrup