Galleries - July 2012

R ob Mulholland at Caol Ruadh. P eter Randall- Page ‘Ironed Out’, at Beaux Arts. Lynn Chadwick, ‘Maquette IV Moon of Alabama’, 1957, bronze at Alan Wheatley Art This summer is about being Brit- ish and, adding to the Cultural Olympiad of events and shows on offer, two exhibitions in the heart of London both exemplify why we ought, as a nation, to take pride in Modern British Sculpture. Alan Wheatley Art is presen- ting ‘Fanning the Flames’, which looks at work by six of the original sculptors from the ground-break- ing British Pavilion exhibition, ‘New Aspects of British Sculpture’, at the 26th Venice Biennale in 1952. Kenneth Armitage, Reg Butler, Lynn Chadwick, Bernard Meadows, Eduardo Paolozzi and William Turnbull redefined British art of the time, their aggressive yet serious sculpture unashamedly referencing the zeitgeist of the post-war era. Chadwick’s omin- ously pointed heads and Paol- ozzi’s geometric forms now app- ear timely and even nostalgic but their use of industrial materials, hand-markings and recurring the- mes of metamorphoses evoke a bio-politics as relevant today as it was then. The works on show in ‘Fanning the Flames’ make very clear why the 1952 exhibition jus- tly defined many of these artists’ careers and marked the beginning of a stronger and ever more boldly avant-garde-thinking Britain. Equ- ally the sculptures by Henry Mo- ore and Barbara Hepworth, also in the show, help to confirm this as a key moment in the early devel- opment of a post-war British scul- ptural movement. Beaux Art’s exhibition, ‘A Cele- bration’ also includes some stellar works from the Modern British canon, from Moore and Hepworth to Elisabeth Frink and Paul Mount, being placed alongside carefully selected contemporary pieces that have been influenced by the former. The legacy of Hepworth’s organic curves can be seen par- ticularly strongly in Stephanie Carlton Smith’s marble sculpture, Love Begin (2012) and Simon Allen’s stunning wall-sculptures made of 12ct white gold on carved wood. The way Allen’s precious yet tactile sculptures bridge both beauty and brutality remains true to the form of Modern British Scul- pture. With seven decades of work on view, ‘A Celebration’ demon- strates the impact and signif- icance of the movement with a well rounded, properly context- ualized show. Nicola McCartney While there are some except- ionally situated sculpture park venues around these days this brand new one (it only opened at the end of June), Caol Ruadh on the Kyles of Bute – now dubbed, with some justification, when you come to work out just where it is and how to get there, ‘Argyll’s secret coast’ – would still seem to beat most of them by a ‘country mile' as they say. It represents the twenty year-old dream of two determined women, Karen Scot- land and Anne Edmonds, who have professional backgrounds in landscape gardening and theatre design and childhoods growing up in the wilds of Australia and Northern Canada – the almost per- fect combined CVs for conceiving and setting up a sculpture park, one would have thought. Meanwhile the choice of artists to show in it appears to have been made with the same close care and attention as has been given to the siting of the pieces them- selves. Tim Pomeroy, Andrea Geile, Tom Allan, Rob Mulholland and Emma Herman-Smith, for example, are among the leading younger and middle generation sculptors in Scotland and there are plenty of others like them here as well. But, going back to that setting –‘Caol Ruadh’ means ‘the red house on the narrows’ – sweeping sea-views, mossy woodlands, ferny dells – it really is a sculptor’s dream come true. Finally don’t forget the English pioneer of the sculpture park that you can also buy or commission from, the Cass Sculpture Foun- dation at Goodwood in East Sussex. Set up over 20 years ago by Wilfred Cass and his wife Jeanette it is still looking as good and dynamic as ever in its beautiful Downland setting. NU SCULPTURE