My journey to bas-relief sculpture was a very long one. Living in London as I did, and being quite a shy and singular sort of person I spent my days from my teens in the London Art Galleries and Museums. However I found art , especially sculpture, difficult. I started as a painter doing scenes from imagination, however both colleges that I attended (Camberwell and Chelsea colleges, both in London) taught strict and accurate measurement. Both colleges were influenced by the Euston Rd. Style of Art where they looked back to the Renaissance and pre- Renaissance. The Euston Rd. School believed that all art has to be strictly measured. Poetic imagination was not easy in this environment. In fact the course taught me much but at the expense of my own self-expression. I used to get so bogged down in measurement that I didn’t think that I would ever get out. After College I made a series of garden gnomes to try and escape the very idea of exact measurement. I also started to paint landscapes. When painting I wanted to physically shape the landscapes. One day in 1980 I was in the canteen of one of the major art galleries. I noticed the walls were pastiche Roman frescoes and I felt inspired. Frescoes were made of plaster and pigment, materials that I was very familiar with (at Camberwell the first sculpture assignment was to make a full size figure in plaster). So began a slow journey to find a way to express ideas without the strictures of measurement and with a bas-relief foundation.
Growing up in London I was extremely lucky with the wealth of galleries and museums. Much Oriental art, Indian, Asian and African and Polynesian art use bas-relief as a major art-form. The museums were full of ancient Roman, Celtic, Assyrian, Mesapotanium, Egyptian, Greek art using bas-relief to tell their stories and legends, and it was these that I studied as a way into my own poetic expression in bas-relief. What I particularly liked was the purity of the line of Bas- relief. However it took me a long while to rid myself of the need to measure every minute part of the work and even today I still work with the geometry of the triangle although I sand back the evidence. “Mother and Daughter” for instance is made up of triangles which are hidden. Gradually I gained more confidence to express my own thoughts and as it only just pre-dated my journey to Australia I was able to express the New Arrival’s thoughts and feelings in some of my work. It was not until my late thirties and early forties that I arrived at a style that amalgamated all the different references to form my own style.
I had also been lucky enough to study many famous artists showing in the London Art Galleries and I cannot name all my influences. My favourite artists were Rouault for his line, Giacometti for his fragility, Kahlo for her emotional story-telling, Rembrandt for his light sources, Picasso for his energy and vibrancy of line and the sentimentality of his “Blue Period”, Epstein for his emotional strength, Moore for simplicity of form, Guy Nelson for the musicality and mystery of his artwork. There are so many artists that have given me inspiration and to whom I owe a debt, as I say it took me a very long time to arrive at my own style.
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