Why Bronze? There is a one word answer for this one and its durability! Bronze is virtually indestructible and stands the test of time in terms of longevity. Even under the best of circumstances, painting, drawings, pottery and even stone will eventually disintegrate or deteriorate over time. If you ever visit the ancient area of art museums you will notice that there is a distinct lack of paintings and drawings compared to the rest of the exhibits. This is attributable to the fact that those materials are fragile and cannot sustain over time. Bronze stands the test of time primarily because of the fact that the principle component in bronze is copper. When the copper in bronze is exposed to oxygen a greenish, grayish layer (patina) is formed over the metal which protects against decomposition. At the beginning of the 20th century, ancient bronze sculptures dating back to 340BC were found by Greek sponge divers in a ship wreck off the coast of North Africa. Over the last 100 years subsequent dives around the island of Antikthera and other locations around the world have unearthed additional ancient bronze sculptures remarkably well preserved.
Personally, if I am going to spend my time, energy and money creating a piece of art, I want it to stand the test of time. Recently, I was at a sculpture workshop where the medium used was terracotta clay with the intent of kiln firing when completed. For the first 30 minutes of the workshop the instructor went into excruciating detail about the fragility of the material and ways to repair it if and or when it breaks! YIKES! Working in terracotta or some other fireable clay is admittedly very economical, great to learn with and is l fine if you want a single piece of art, but for me I want something that will stand the test of time and can be reproduced. More about bronze in my next post.