What with Rachel Whiteread’s exhibition closing at the Tate Britain recently, we’re feeling nostalgic and inspired about all things sculpture this week. Traditionally, Brits are rather fond of sculpture, with some of our best-known artists - such as heavyweights Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore - staying loyal to this sometimes monumental, sometimes delicate medium. Over the last few decades, more institutions which focus on sculpture have sprung up: such as the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Hepworth Wakefield. And with the recent success of Whiteread’s show, it seems that the British public has gone all sentimental on sculpture.
A brief history of sculpture
Sculpture has a long history — it’s been the medium of choice for rulers and the world’s most powerful since Classical antiquity. But since then it’s had many guises: from marble busts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to the sleek, gold pieces of Modernists such as Brancusi. Whilst originally limited to stone, ceramics or wood, since the 60s pretty much any three-dimensional piece is viewed as sculpture, in terms of its process and materials.
And today, it seems to be more popular than ever! Perhaps it’s the tangible quality of the three-dimensional, within a world when so much of the visual is in a two-dimensional form, walking around a sculptural, textural form in a gallery environment may have even greater appeal. Whatever the reason, we’re big fans of the many forms that sculpture can take: from figurative and abstract, to somewhere in between. Read on for some of our favourites on our online shop.
Discover sculpture in all its many forms on our online shop
Animals have long been a popular source of inspiration for sculptors. Alyson Hunter’s charming Girl and Dog, shown by Jamm Gallery, combines the human figure with the animal in a beautiful, expressive way, reminiscent of Henry Moore’s monumental human forms. Other similarly monumental works in the online shop include Beatrice Hoffman’s Small Embrace, which has a wonderful weightiness about it. Hoffman explains how her work is dominated by the tension between form and negative space, and the simplicity, clarity, and concentration that her chosen medium can express.
For more delicate works which convey living beings, we love Joy Trpkovic’s work, showing with Mint Art Gallery. These sensitive portrayals of butterflies - such as Funghi - show the impossibly delicate sense of movement that porcelain can take. For something that stands between the monumental and the delicate, how about Mark Upton’s brilliant White Horse III, with its spindly legs and robust body?
Many figurative sculptures also combine something of the abstract within the form: we love the fragmented nature of Mat Kemp’s Women of Words, made from individual pieces of plaster, wood or metal. His pieces appear to nod back to classical antiquity — indeed, Kemp says that he’s been influenced from Assyrian friezes at the British Museum.
For those looking for something a little more abstract, we can’t get enough of the geometric work of Gareth Griffiths. Represented by Degree Art, pieces like Trelic almost seems like a human figure, despite their reliance on geometric shapes. Influenced by both brutalist architecture, and a style of West Coast architecture called ‘Googie’, the structural, architectural quality of his work is really felt with its bold shapes. Talking of geometric, the spiral, circular work of Mark Beattie who shows with Caiger Contemporary, is a great example of the abstract possibilities that sculpture can embody. Made of thin copper and metal, Mark’s work is inspired by different metals and the way they relate to one another.
For a piece of abstract work that’s a little different, how about Adela Powell’s intriguing ceramic stoneware piece, simply titled Grey Dark Blue Textured Form. Using clay as her starting point, Adela’s work is very intuitive, relying on the material itself to help her find the form of the sculpture.
Finally, our online shop has plenty on offer if you’re looking for something a little eccentric. Uri Dushi’s three-layered and extremely colourful wall sculpture is just one example of the many ways that sculpture and wall art can combine. Likewise, Liliya Milpetrova’s incredible Imprisoned by Simulation is made from no less than five materials: stainless steel, brass, polyurethane resin, taxidermy, and glass! Showing with Lomaka Gallery, Liliya is interested in imperfections, combining multiple materials to create her highly original and captivating pieces, a nod to the multidisciplinary and experimental features that sculpture can convey.
Search through hundreds of statement sculptures on our online shop to find something to catch your eye »
Did you know, if you snap up your favourite piece online you can live with it for up to 14 days, and if you decide it’s not to your taste or it doesn’t work in your space, you can return it free of charge?
Liliya Milpetrova, Imprisoned by simulation (detail), mixed media on resin, £4,450, Lomaka Gallery.
Featured art from first to last:
Beatrice Hoffman, Small Embrace, bronze, edition of 10, £780, Art Agency.
Mark Upton, White Horse III, bronze, edition of 12, £1,650, Byard Art.
Mark Beattie, Neon Orb I, mixed media, £3,000, Degree Art.
Liliya Milpetrova, Imprisoned by simulation, mixed media on resin, £4,450, Lomaka Gallery.