Expressive Dimensions

Nelson Mandela University

Michael Roderick Wedderburn’s work exemplifies how an artist’s individualistic style and character is expressed within automatic and intuitive art-making methods. Drawing inspiration from automatic drawing and action painting he transcends the picture plane. From flat to highly textured paintings, from figural to completely abstract sculpture, he explores Automatism, a purely expressive methodology, from both a conventional and non-conventional standpoint. Within this exhibition there are three main bodies of work: the works of anatomical Automatism; the figures and the purely abstract. The work created is a by-product of an aggressive working environment, a practice which involves expressing a life with Marfans syndrome. The artist’s own anatomy is an overbearing shadow, a daily reminder of circumstantial restrictions and physical ailment caused by this illness. Awkwardly bent posture, off-set balance, inscrutable bodily forms and proportions, cuts and scars from medical procedures, are just a few of the over-whelming reminders of illness which aggravate his sensibilities. With a dire need to express his angst for this intimidating illness he exposes what plagues his daily contemplations and unconscious nature, and then attacks it to ensure a purely expressive means of manifesting his unconscious through painterly and sculptural form.

* All artworks are for sale, prices exclude delivery


Michael Roderick Wedderburn is an expressionist sculptor and painter focused on the exploration and development of conventional and non-conventional methods within Abstraction. In order to refine his own practice, he investigates how tools are used, how mediums react, and the influence of the studio environment. Wedderburn’s approach to abstraction is rooted in the principals of Automatism, a methodology automatic and intuitive in nature that enables him to create his work organically. In addition, Michael has gained a unique perspective on expressive artmaking in leading a life with illness. 

Wedderburn received a distinction for his research dissertation and exhibition titled, Living in the Shadow of Death (2016) in which Anatomical automatism was established. For this methodology, he sought theory from Surrealist Automatists Joan Miro, Robertto Matta, Andre Masson and Abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock to develop his own rendition of Automatist abstraction. Since the completion of his Masters research, Michael has continued making art based on the principals of his methodology. Anatomical Automatism has proven to be a solid foundation for him as his works have consistently achieved placement as one of South Africa’s top one-hundred emerging artists in the Sasol new signatures art competitions every year from 2014-2019. 

Currently Wedderburn works as a lecturing assistant / studio technician in Sculpture at the Nelson Mandela University, under head of sculpture, David Jones. Here Michael teaches the basic techniques and methods of sculpture to undergraduate students, which include tool making, machine and tool usage, woodwork, carving and mould-making basics. Additionally, he has also interned at Department of Visual Arts’ Bird Street Gallery and supervised public sculpture projects.