Above: Colossus, Portland stone, h31 x w30 x d27 cm
SCULPTURE AND PAINTINGS
EXHIBITION at CHAPPEL GALLERIES
15TH JULY TO 13TH AUGUST, 2017
OPENING DAY SATURDAY 15TH JULY NOON TO 5PM
THEREAFTER OPEN WEDNESDAY TO SUNDAY 10AM TO 5PM
or by appointment 01206 240326
Colchester Road Chappel Essex CO6 2DE
www.chappelgalleries.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
APPLY FOR FREE ILLUSTRATED EXHIBITION BOOKLET
By Louis de Berniere, Author
Mark Goldsworthy is an artist who boldly establishes a presence in one’s life without any kind of fanfare. Anyone who drives
past the village of Homersfield in North Suffolk will see a slightly worried looking man with a paddle in his hands, in a small
boat, perched on the top of a tree trunk. It is so much a part of the landscape that it seems that it might have been there since time
immemorial, to such an extent that some local people are surprised to see it when it is pointed out to them. Homersfield is on the
River Waveney, so a small worried man in a boat is entirely appropriate. I have always felt that what worries him is being on the
top of a tree trunk with the wrong equipment, rather than where he belongs, in the river.
I first became aware of Goldsworthy’s work because there was one such large carving in a garden in my village, on a lane nor-
mally travelled by only one or two people per diem. It became my habitual route home just because I liked the sculpture, and I
was dismayed one day to find that it had been moved on.
Goldsworthy is an artisan artist with a powerful physical presence, whose work requires real craft and muscular strength. He
makes beautifully proportioned gypsy caravans which are both practical, and beautifully carved. He will install carved barge
boards on the gables of your house, or supply you with green men for the bosses of your beams, or mouldings made of resin for
your ceiling, or a corbel table for your parapet. It might appear that he has three or four simultaneous careers, but I very much
doubt if he sees it that way. Forks have three or four tines, and chairs have three or four legs, after all.
He says that his artistic work always begins with a feeling, and he then has to settle upon how that feeling is developed and ex-
pressed. For this he has a choice of painting, or carving in wood, alabaster and stone, or casting in bronze. In his workshop he
has the maquettes for his sculptures, and I find them as interesting and enjoyable as the finished product, because you can see
how concepts transform themselves during the creative process.
Goldsworthy’s paintings are full of life; not just with a human life, but also with that of animals and trees. They are the work of a
countryman. He says that each of his eyes sees colours differently, so that the colours he settles upon are consequent upon
which one is closed at the time of looking. However, his colours are certainly beyond realism; for example he might have patch-
es of green or purple on the feathers of a white duck, but this would be how he conveys a sense of depth and shadow. Like most
good artists he sees the colour behind the colour; where I would see green, he can see the brown or the lilac or the scarlet hidden
within the green. Sometimes his lines are precise, and sometimes they are blurred and wavy, so that, in the former case, one is
looking through a window at the world, and otherwise one is looking at a dream of it.
Characteristically (but certainly not always) he slightly distorts the familiar shapes of things so that we are challenged by seeing
them in a new way. The paintings in this exhibition, with their strong swathes of unexpected colours, are inspired by the concept
of the burlesque. They made me think of Degas’ paintings of dancers behind the scenes. The burlesque is all about entertaining
people by means of irony, with an exaggeration that is comical on the surface but points to something tragic and sad when
thought about at greater depth. There is an angularity to these figures which to me implies hunger or sickness, or the longing for
something better and less superficial in this life, beyond projecting a persona or putting on a show, but this is always accom-
plished without sacrificing the natural exuberance of the subject.
His carvings are almost never angular, and Goldsworthy certainly doesn’t aspire to being a Giacometti. Although there is the
practical business of finding the stone that fits the shape, or the shape that fits the stone, they are, I think, mainly the conse-
quence of Goldsworthy’s joy in the natural pleasures of the hand as it runs on a curved surface. You get the same pleasure from
running your hands over these sculptures as you do from stroking a horse, or the statues in Vigland’s Park in Oslo; but
Goldsworthy’s figures are more curved and foreshortened, softened and rounded, than those of Vigland. They might remind you
of the fertility figures of neolithic times, or of Celtic carvings, or the contemporary work of Emily Young, whose work I once
characterised as being all about strength and gentleness. They have a mythic quality which implies a narrative that Goldsworthy
has presumably already imagined, but which onlookers have to work out for themselves. Often they are in unusual postures, and
frequently they have their eyes closed, as if it contemplation or ecstasy, or melancholy. Those whose eyes are open display the
inscrutable expressions of those who can see something that we cannot. These figures are not about beauty or physical perfec-
tion, but are about the presentation of character, the privileging of presence over detail, the catching of mood rather than resem-
This exhibition is the result of three years’ work by an artist who is, happily, also a masterly craftsman. Goldsworthy is no pre-
tentious naked emperor in pursuit of novelty. He is not clowning about, or jumping up and down crying ‘Look at me! Look at
me!’ Goldsworthy invites us not to look at him, but at the world as he reshapes it, making a kind of poetry out of solid sub-
stance, and creating as many characters as a novelist.