Monday, June 13, 2011

A Sculpture's Life (so far)

In 1962, I was having difficulty in returning to painting after a year-long, round-the –world voyage of drawing, followed by the building of a studio house in the country (later bought by Francis Bacon).
          I just couldn’t get going again without the interest of artistic progression.
          I then struck upon the idea of help by creating simple collages of card with stuck-on coloured paper, paper combined with paint, paint alone in the form of collage, and sculpture of painted copper on wood that was also closely related to the said collages.
          And it worked. Interest and creativity returned and, incidentally, interest to others as well, as one of them sold at Christie’s in late 2010 to a collector who took down a Matisse to make room for it.
A small one of those sculptures in wood and painted copper I still own. It was exhibited in a cabinet at The Mayor Gallery, Cork Street, London, at the time of my successful show there of Aircraft Shadows.
My London neighbour, Wilma, recovered from a decline in her life, and decided to spruce up her house and to restore a back garden that had by then become a veritable jungle.
I looked out of a window to see what horticultural progress had been made. And there, beneath two prostrate builders’ ladders was one of my (7 ½” x 13”)1962 copper and wood sculptures. – a painted Uffington White Horse on a copper, olive/green downland setting with a cut-out painted figure.
I had completely forgotten about this particular sculpture, and could find no photograph, or a record of it in my files. How then was I to discover how it came to be next door and abandoned in the garden?
So, when my neighbour was standing outside her front door, I tackled her, telling of what I had seen and asking permission to photograph the piece.
Then, later that day, as Margreet was about to enter our house, the sculpture was given back to us as the neighbour was ridding herself of unnecessary clutter.
The shape and colour is as if it had never been exposed to the elements. But, for a decade or more, the woodwork had become delicious grub for many a hungry woodworm.
There is preservation and restoration to be done, with its patina of age hopefully retained (created in 1962 and restored by the artist in 2011). I relish the opportunity to do it.
It materialised that some time ago, when my neighbour broke her leg in the district of the Uffington White Horse, I had given the piece to her as a commemorative present.
So its title is now: Wilma and the Uffington White Horse.
Whether she will thank me for this description is problematical, as it clearly depicts the painted image of that famous downland white chalk horse, and the raised form in painted copper of a fulsome naked lady cavorting nearby over the historic grass.