About my work

In the studio with Ape Glancing Sideways. Photograph by Phil West

In the studio with Ape Glancing Sideways. Photograph by Phil West


I make sculptures mostly of animals. The underlying theme in all my work, however, is the human experience. Animals are used, like characters in a dream or story, to explore and give expression to it. I love their infinitely varied forms and the power of their image. Nursery rhymes, proverbs and stories all use this same process, and I often visit these literary sources to find the right animal for what it is I need to look into. Often too, these stories serve as a starting point for series of pieces such as the fox and the cockerel from Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale, or the characters populating nursery rhymes (such as Old Mother Hubbard’s dog.)

Besides exploring these layers of meaning, I engage with the material (be it clay, wax, cardboard, bronze or steel) in a way that is forever playful and never predictable. Each piece is open ended; the material is allowed its voice and each sculpture is an adventure. The surfaces thus arrived at are testament to the process of creation, revealing layers of imprinted texture, drawing and re-drawing.

All my work starts with drawing; sculpture, for me, is a kind of drawing in 3 D. I make small hand held pieces in wax or clay to explore the posture and the 3 dimensionality of the piece. Posture is my most powerful tool; it is what imbues a sculpture with emotional resonance.

Most of my sculptures originate in clay, which is sometimes fired but more often cast into bronze and patinated in strong colours. The surfaces are highly tactile; one is aware of the layering of the clay and a playful exploration of the material with textures of everyday materials imprinted onto the clay or cast into the sculpture.

studio portrait with dormouse.jpg
Here is someone whose work is indeed true sculpture. She possesses an almost surreal twist to her work that immediately makes it thought provoking. Some of her work has a tenderness that is most moving, an emotion that is usually lacking in modern sculpture.
— Sir Kyffin Williams, Painter and Royal Academician (1918-2006), widely regarded as the defining artist of Wales during the 20th Century
Tension informs her work. There is a fundamental conflict between the means of representation and the thing represented that lends a dynamic force to everything that Marjan does. There is wit too. Dog performing headstand is a splendid conceit and is much enjoyed by visitors here at Bury Art Gallery and Museum.
—  Richard Burns, Curator, Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre
…nevertheless what gives her sculptures their emotional charge, informs their beauty and is communicated to us is that her art is an account of a passionate relationship with all life. Through her skill and commitment Wouda puts us in touch, literally and metaphorically, with the same passion.
—  Mary Sara, critic and curator