Roger Fry and the trap of the luxury art object

Beware the shallow gleam is a favourite phrase whilst advising students of sculpture who are toying with stone. The sourcing of fine stones from all corners of the globe takes real energy. The fine polish imparted thereon, the magical colour exposed – or depth verging on the chatoyant – is often found a stage too early in the development of the work. A preciousness emerges in both sculptor (Tolkien’s Gollum-style) and object, which has the capacity to divert from the finding of form. Those lustrous stones will be grey and lichened in two thousand years time. Will they stand the test … Continue reading Roger Fry and the trap of the luxury art object

Woking, an early Epstein portrait and a link to a lost work

I happened upon Jacob Epstein’s Italian Peasant Woman in Shawl recently, part of the remarkable sculptures in the Ingram Collection of Modern British Art assembled by media entrepreneur Chris Ingram, who has enabled his home town of Woking to see art which might normally grace the likes of Tate Britain, via its loan to the Marks Barfield-designed Lightbox Museum and Gallery. Julia Barfield and David Marks were behind the London Eye and the Woking building is similarly worth seeing. The Peasant Woman head was created in 1907, at around the time Epstein was given the commission for 18 figures on the British Medical … Continue reading Woking, an early Epstein portrait and a link to a lost work

Portrait sculpture – conscious, subconscious, unconscious?

Worthing Museum had an interesting sculpture exhibition on in 2011/12, featuring the Latvian-born Dora Gordin (1895-1991) – she later changed this to Gordine – who settled in London after studying music and art in Paris. It is co-curated with Dorich House, where the artist lived and where the Gordine archive continues to reside in the care of Kingston University’s Brenda Martin. I’ve got a soft spot for Worthing’s permanent collection and visiting after a year’s gap since exhibiting there, it was lovely to see the work of one artist in the top gallery space. Gordine’s portrait heads sometimes seem to have … Continue reading Portrait sculpture – conscious, subconscious, unconscious?

Stone: whose work is it anyway?

I receive letters like this once a fortnight. They effectively promise to do sculptors’ hard work for them at a very reasonable cost. I send a small model or maquette to China, and it will be factored to my dream size in granite or my chosen material; hardness no object. Permanence guaranteed. All from the comfort of my chair. This process is behind much of large work  in stone today – the anodyne Borough works of  statuary as well as large works by non-stonecarving artists who (perhaps) are using stone as an addition to their oeuvre, to tap into the huge … Continue reading Stone: whose work is it anyway?

Leonora Carrington on intellectualising art

It is sad to hear Leonora Carrington has died aged 94. Her recent sculpture (in the link, seen here in the exhibition which she lived long enough to see open), is seemingly interpreted from the imagery of her earlier paintings. For me, it does not have the power of her two-dimensional work or earliest sculpture. Nevertheless, for the British artist who lived in Mexico City for sixty years and was adopted as one of their own, there appears to have been a growing demand for it. The Guardian journalist Joanna Moorhead is a relative of Carrington. She produced a touching film which was … Continue reading Leonora Carrington on intellectualising art

Angel of the North

En route for Scotland for sittings with sculptor Ronald Rae and Founder/Director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park Peter Murray as part of my sculpture series of heads, I was privileged to spend a few hours with Fenwick Lawson, an artist whose work is less well-known internationally than it perhaps should be. After training at the Royal College of Art under John Skeaping (at a time when Jacob Epstein was working on a major commission in the spaces there), he eschewed a potentially lucrative alliance with a top Gallery early in his career to maintain his independence and resist being requisitioned to … Continue reading Angel of the North