Winter Exhibition: ‘Modern Collectables’ 1 Dec – 31 Jan 2014

Contemporary, hand-made ceramics and glass by leading and emerging artists. Perfect for unusual and original Christmas gifts.

The exhibition is open on Sat 7th, 14th & 21st December, from 11am – 5pm and thereafter by appointment. All work is available to take away on the day of purchase.

Opening/Private View: Sunday 1 December, 2.30pm – 4.30pm. Mulled wine and mince pies.

Artists:
Vanessa Bullick – ceramics
Billie Bond – ceramcis
Elena Fleury-Rojo – blown glass
Peter Hayes – ceramic sculpture
Matt Horne – ceramics
Polly Kennedy – glass
Jude Jelfs – ceramics
Sheila Madder – ceramics
Robert Mowle – ceramics
Angelica & Gerd Panten – ceramics
Ostinelli & Priest – ceramic sculpture
Antonia Salmon – ceramic sculpture
Hilary Simms – ceramic sculpture

Pictured: Antonia Salmon, ‘Dark Oval’ smoke fired stoneware.

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Sculpt Gallery on BBC ‘Essex Quest’ Radio Show

Sculpt Gallery featured on this week’s ‘Essex Quest’ radio show (16 Nov) on BBC Radio Essex. The show goes out live on Sunday mornings with presenters Mike and Liana attempting to solve clues with the help of the public to find a series of venues in Essex. Sculpt Gallery was the destination venue and the presenters solved the ‘Quest’ for the second week in a row arriving in good time to do a short interview with Debra Blik about the gallery.

Sculpt Gallery Artists Selected for ‘Face 2013’ – Society of Portrait Sculptors

Three regular Sculpt Gallery artists have had work selected for inclusion in ‘Face 2013’ – the portrait sculpture exhibition organised annually by the Society of Portrait Sculptors (SPS).

Neal French FRBS, Roland Piche FRBS and Maurice Blik PPRBS have each had portrait sculpture selected by the SPS for inclusion in the next exhibition taking place from 13-18 May 2013 at the gallery in Cork Street, London.

You can see work by each of these artists in the current portrait sculpture exhibition at Sculpt Gallery: ‘Captured’, which ends on 30 March 2013.

For details of ‘Face 2013’ please see the SPS website.

Pictured: ‘Sonny’ by Maurice Blik

‘Head of Michelle’ – by guest blogger Roland Piche

The portrait sculpture exhibition ‘Captured’ at Sculpt Gallery this month (Mar 2-30 2013) has prompted me to write a little about my three heads of Michelle, which will feature in the exhibition.

Michelle’s lively energy and trusting smile has retained for me an association with William Hogarth’s painting of ‘the Shrimp Girl’. That fresh complexion initiated the making of ‘Head of Michelle 2007′ and led to two others which, because there was no time for her to sit for me, were worked from her presence as retained in my memory.

I decided to build her directly, bit by bit, using very small mixtures of resin, pigment and talc, deliberately avoiding the conventions of more traditional means and positively avoiding illustration or making a copy. The challenge of an artist is not to copy nature but to remake it.

In my discovery of the subject of sculpture and the first Principles of Sculpture, I was able to identify qualities and values I had earlier encountered; how for example, the surface of a sculpture meets space and shares an existence as an experience. This is of profound order and engages the issues of ‘form’ and ‘forming’ as a process of becoming elevated into the status of Art.

During the making of these heads, I was able to engage how Matter and Substance interact with the qualities and notions of Space and Light, the transparency of colours and of what is solid and what is not. The significant issues celebrate the animate energies of mortality. The pursuit of beauty in the ancient world and comprehension of the First Principles of Sculpture, particularly ancient Egyptian and Greek sculpture, can be connected to a seeming paradox i.e. the making of the human image in such a resistant, hard material as granite, which at the same time holds the fleeting smile of a beautiful woman – fixed in eternity.

Although the language of words dominates our cultural evolution, I am attracted to the idea of the language of sculpture, for while these are different languages, they can be cross-referenced. An example of this can be experienced in the use of the plumbline (Head of Michelle 2007).

In this head, the plumbline signifies the existence of silence and the primary presence of gravity. These formal qualities lead to the bigger questions of Metaphysics and the question, ‘What is reality?’

In these heads, the spirit of Michelle is explored as an equivalent to her existence and my reactions to her. In the 2009 ‘Michelle in the Raw’ set on a yellow frame, I explored an even wilder aspect; a vision beyond so called reality, engaging aspects of the unseen.

The ‘Head of Michelle 2012’ with the stone upon her head confirms the ‘Shrimp Girl’ connection and generates a more mortal and human existence, capturing her spirit and personality.

Since making these heads, I have gone on to make several others which in turn have led to the series of large figures entitled ‘The Skywalkers’. I am currently working towards a large exhibition of my work which is due to take place in the Chapter House at Canterbury Cathedral in October this year.

Roland Piche

For details of the ‘Captured’ exhibition, please visit the Sculpt Gallery website.

A Close Encounter with Sculptor, John Doubleday

‘I’ve always been fascinated by people,’ says sculptor, John Doubleday, peering over the top of his glasses as he warms a piece of wax on a home-made jam-jar-and-wick device that looks a bit like a Molotov cocktail.

He’s working directly in wax on my portrait head, which when finished will be cast in bronze. This two-dimensional technique using wax is very similar to that used to produce ancient Muiscan artefacts uncovered in South America. The wax will burn away during the casting process.

I’m literally in his hands, being moulded, pinched and pressed into shape and I’m not feeling particularly at ease with the situation. It’s hard to forget the things that many of us feel self-conscious about – our ears, our nose – or whatever hang-ups we have, but John is quick to let me know that there’s no place in the creative process for vanity.

‘I’m not interested in the superficial stuff’, he tells me. ‘I want to understand what’s behind that.’ I was rather hoping he’d be taken in by the superficial stuff as he calls it. I’ve never had analysis but I suddenly get a glimpse into what it might be like to be on the psychiatrist’s couch.

John Doubleday has been sculpting all his life and specialises in portrait sculpture. He left Goldsmiths College in 1968 before completing his course. ‘The Waterhouse Gallery invited me to have a one-man show whilst I was still a student. It sold pretty well,’ he recalls. ‘I bought a house with the proceeds and even had a bit left over so I decided to get on with it.’ And get on with it he has – very successfully. He has a list of public commissions to his name that reads like a New Year’s honours list, including Golda Meir, Dorothy Sayers, and Nelson Mandela, to name but a few. A recent addition is a small head of Sir Winston Churchill – the result of a study, following a chance meeting whilst John was a boy.  He remembers Churchill as being a rather grumpy old thing. ‘He was sat working at his papers and he looked up at me over the top of his glasses in a way that told me he was not particularly happy to have been interrupted ’.

Politicians and actors can be challenging for a portrait sculptor, John tells me. ‘I don’t have an agenda and it can be difficult to convince them of that.

‘Among the most challenging portraits I’ve ever done have been Sir Laurence Olivier and Tony Blair because both had a definite idea of themselves. My task is to form an opinion of my own and to honestly record what I find, otherwise there is little point in the process. All that is necessary is for someone to feel free to be themselves. That’s why children are such fun – the character is all there. My approach is simply to wait for them to reveal themselves. They’re often interested in the sculptural process; if they’re a bit lively and mischievous then all the better! It amuses me that little girls very often seem to control households,’ he laughs.

I’m intrigued to know how the Mandela portrait came about, which I later learn is one of John’s personal favourites. ‘He is Honorary President of the United World College, who commissioned the original portrait, and the edition has emerged from that,’ he explains.

The sittings took place in Johannesburg at Mandela’s home and the Presidential offices. ‘He wasn’t long out of prison,’ he recalls, ‘and he was unusual in that he was devoid of political ambition. His life task was getting rid of apartheid. When I met him he was primarily concerned with the present problems of the emerging nation. He has a chiefly manner that gave him a natural authority. What made him particularly impressive to me was his moral conviction which sustained him during his 27 years in prison.’

So it’s easy to see why Mandela is one of the portraits that John is most proud to be associated with. ‘I regard it as an enormous privilege to have been asked to record him for posterity,’ he says. As he does a current work in progress – a statue commissioned for Walton-on-the-Naze to commemorate Private Herbert Columbine, a World War I Private who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in the field.

John considers it a great responsibility to do a portrait of a WWI Private because of the unimaginable sacrifices they endured. ‘It’s only in retrospect that some sort of acknowledgement can be made of the bravery of Private soldiers, who actually won us the War despite daunting odds and incompetent Senior Command.’ He hopes that an editioned bronze maquette of the statue, which he has donated to the fundraising, will help to move the project closer to becoming a reality.

So what, I want to know, is the special quality that portrait sculpture has over a painting or a photograph?

‘Portrait sculpture provides a presence of the personality which continues to say something long after the subject and the sculptor have departed. It’s something spontaneous, elusive and ephemeral which is rendered durable through sculpture – like quicksilver. Sculpture can be a quiet presence; it doesn’t have to shout at you.’

Our sitting is coming to an end and John has made good progress with my head. As he starts to pack up there’s time for just one more, quick question. Why is bronze his medium of choice?

‘Bronze for me is about fire and molten metal – it’s dangerous, unstable and exciting!’ he says with a boyish twinkle in his eye.

Debra Blik, Director, Sculpt Gallery

The finished head, will be shown, together with a selection of portrait sculpture by John Doubleday and works by other notable sculptors, in an exhibition entitled ‘Captured’ at Sculpt Gallery from March 2nd-30th. The Preview will be held on Saturday 2 March from 5.00-7.30pm. For details please see the website www.sculptgallery.com or contact the Debra Blik on 07980768616.

In demand: ceramics by Hilary Simms

The Nautilus Collection of ceramics by Hilary Simms has been extremely well received. Hilary specialises in raku fired ceramics with shapes inspired by shells collected from beaches in The Gambia.

The gallery is proud to announce that it will be hosting Hilary’s first solo exhibition: ‘NAUTILUS’  – from May 18 – June 30 2013.

The opening and artist’s reception will take place on Saturday 18 May from 2.30 – 5.00pm. All welcome.

For further details please contact the gallery by email: info@sculptgallery.com or contact Debra Blik on 07980768616.

Sculpt Gallery Opening Exhibition

Sculpt Gallery’s opening exhibition featuring sculpture and ceramics by selected artists got off to a flying start with a third of the exhibition sold on the opening day.

Participating artists: Maurice Blik FRBS (resident sculptor); Derek Morris FRBS; Hilary Simms; and Ann Goodfellow.

The exhibition can be viewed until 25 March 2012.

Please contact the gallery to make an appointment.