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Deformation Transformation at Messums Wiltshire

Deformation Transformation at Messums Wiltshire


Catafalque 2003 Sean Henry

Part two of Messums Wiltshire’s thought-provoking exhibition on human form works perfectly in this gargantuan, temple like space.

Deformation Transformation shows the work of three British sculptors exploring the human condition in contemporary society in starkly different ways.

First let’s look at Sean Henry whose imposing and rather wonderful Catafalque 2003 – a giant man reposing on a temporary coffin gazing up at the sky – stationed outside the gallery is the first thing to greet you. Henry’s bronze, painted figures, sometimes vast, sometimes smaller than life-size are hyper-real and always managing to convey a rich interior life of the subject.  There is a seated man clutching a brief-case, almost astonishingly life like,  who gazes into the distance. Henry likes to start with photographs of people he knows but then introduces anonymity into the figure, adding titles such as Seated Man or Standing Man.

In contrast Brian Taylor shows beautiful, life-size forms often in contorted poses reflecting a more classical tradition reminiscent of Rodin. These are truly beautiful forms created by the sculptor in the Sixties, often as a means of working through his own tortured memories of growing up with a violent father. The Dance of Lily Pier circa 1968-71 is especially poignant, Lily was a model from Camberwell College of Art where Taylor taught, whose mental instability left her homeless.

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Figure Falling Backwards 1979 Brian Taylor

Laurence Edwards is the only sculptor of the three who does not use models or have an understanding of what the final form of his piece will be when he starts out. In this show he explores the blur between masculinity and nature. Two pieces Bubble Wrap 1 and 11 explore the sense of how we are bound to our physicality, other pieces mix Suffolk grasses and seeds blending the detritus of nature with the human form to create pieces which are haunting, slightly disturbing yet seemingly allegorical. Edwards asks the question is man in a state of evolution or devolution, vulnerability or strength?

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Catcher 2016 Laurence Edwards 
Deformation Transformation is open until 5 Feb at Messums Wiltshire, be sure to catch it.

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