SEAN HENRY SCULPTURE EXHIBITION NOW AT SALISBURY CATHEDRALIssued Thursday 21st July 2011
The largest exhibition to date of figurative sculptor Sean Henry’s work can be seen in the spectacular surroundings of Salisbury Cathedral for three months from 22 July – 31 October.
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The book Conflux, published for this exhibition by SCALA Publishers, contains 48 full page images of the sculptures in Salisbury Cathedral, together with an interview of the sculptor by Richard Cork and an essay on the exhibition by artist historian Tom Flynn. It is available from the Cathedral Shop, 01722 555170 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Conflux: A Union of the Sacred and the Anonymous’ features over 20 sculptures of dramatically different scales by this innovative artist, positioned amongst and alongside the Cathedral’s earlier sculptures, in expected and unexpected places. The exhibition is a modern updating of the pre-Reformation tradition of displaying polychrome figures and is believed to be the biggest single collection of polychrome sculpture in the Cathedral since the Reformation.
Canon Treasurer Mark Bonney, chairman of the Cathedral’s Exhibitions Committee, said “The title of Sean Henry’s exhibition expresses quite succinctly what visitors to the Cathedral will see. ‘Conflux’ means a bringing together and this exhibition unites Sean’s contemporary, secular sculpture with our existing medieval, classical sculptures. The Cathedral’s ‘sacred’ sculptures celebrate historically important men and women and the glories of faith whilst Sean’s sculptures depict the humanity of contemporary secular man and pay homage to the ‘anonymous’ and unknown.”
Sean Henry said, “The creativity and ambition of the people who built this Cathedral is truly breathtaking and inspiring, and it is an honour to show my sculpture here. This Cathedral is not a museum but a living building and its significance comes from the community who uses it and visits it. It is my hope that my anonymous figures will in some small way memorialize the everyday presence of people in this space, drawing attention to their role in its history and the significance of the here and now, as well as making people think about the building’s existing sculpture in a different way. The exhibition also invites us to contemplate the role of the Cathedral today and the evolving nature of art in religious environments.”
The Cathedral’s Education Department has devised a programme of events to support the exhibition including workshops, talks and discussions. There are free tours led by specialist guides, including exhibition curator and sculptor Jacquiline Creswell, offering an insight into Sean Henry’s work. Details of free guided tours
A special talk led by Mark Bonney Canon Treasurer entitled 'Conflux: the Christian Perspective' will explore the concept of the exhibition from a Christian standpoint. It will take place between 4pm-5pm on Thursday 8 September in the Chapel of St Edmund & St Thomas.
And Sean Henry can be heard in conversation with Jacquiline Creswell, the Cathedral's Visual Arts Advisor, on Wednesday 21 September between 7pm - 8.30pm in the Cathedral Refectory. They discuss his work, techniques and motivations. Tickets, £10, from the Education Centre, 01722 555180 or email: email@example.com Further details of the two talks here.
On Friday 21 October there is a special 'drop in' family day from 10.30am - 3.30pm which includes 45 minute family tours of the sculptures, a free quiz and competition, and a 3D modelling workshop. Details here.
An exhibition of drawings and a maquette of Folly (The Other Self) by Sean Henry can be seen at Sarum College, 19 The Close, Salisbury, until 26 August. For more information visit www.sarum.ac.uk
For further information on Sean Henry sculptures please contact Harriet Marsh, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07712 184013.
Sean Henry’s distinctive figurative sculpture confronts humanity face-on and has been described as ‘confirming the power of public art’ (Mark Lawson, The Guardian 2007). He creates his sculptures in clay, casts them in bronze and paints them. This innovative approach to representing the human figure has helped to revive a long tradition of polychrome sculpture. Henry’s first solo exhibition was in London in 1988. Since then he has exhibited his work widely in both solo and group shows throughout the UK, USA and across Europe. He won the Villiers David Prize in 1998. He created the critically acclaimed first permanent offshore sculpture in the UK, Couple, on the Northumberland coast. His work is represented by galleries and museums in England, Europe and America. In 2008 Scala published the first comprehensive monograph on his career to date, written by Tom Flynn. Sean Henry is married with three children and works in Wiltshire.
Conflux: A Union of the Sacred and the Anonymous – the sculptures
Folly (The Other Self) (2007 - 2011)
A skeletal building becomes the home – or stage - for a sculptural installation. Inside a man is sleeping as a second version of himself stands nearby; we see him a third time as a drawing on the only solid wall in the structure, while a transparent wheel-back chair floats in mid air. The viewer is invited to become part of this surreal theatre of life, to walk through the work & contemplate the significance of a life lived. Steel, concrete, wood, bronze, resin, all weather paint, perspex and polycarbonate, 8.2m x 5m x 4m.
Walking Woman (2008) An 8ft high figure of a woman strides purposefully towards the West front of the Cathedral. Dressed in black, her enlarged scale and feeling of movement is heightened by the location the artist has chosen for the work. Bronze, all weather paint, 76 x 125 x 217cm.
Man with Cup (2008) The height at which this figure is shown and his pose, holding something in his hand, brings to mind images of saints presenting their attributes, but instead he offers a simple coffee cup. Bronze, all weather paint, 51 x 34 x 139cm.
Seated Man (2011) Related in part to the sculpture of John (Standing), this Seated Man follows a long tradition of seated figures. Resolute in face and mind, he is the prototype for ‘The Indifferent Sky’. Ceramic, oil paint, 35 x 40 x 63cm.
Italia (2004) A man stands with raised hands, one lightly clasping the other. This unusual gesture gives this otherwise poised standing figure an air of vulnerability. Bronze, all weather paint, 71 x 48 x 201cm.
Man Lying on His Side (2000 - 2011) A businessman wearing a suit reclines with his head on a briefcase. His bare feet are in contrast to his formal clothing and encourage the viewer’s engagement. Ceramic, oil paint, recycled wood, 167 x 78 x 122cm.
Man Looking Up (2008) The upward gaze of this half life-size figure raises interesting questions. In glancing up, he both avoids the gaze of the viewer and appears distracted by his thoughts. Ceramic, oil paint, 29 x 19 x 83cm.
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi (1999 - 2011) This work shows two figures separated by a flight of steps. From some angles the higher figure appears slightly superior as he gazes down on the second man, but it is unclear who is more self-aware. The sculpture raises questions about who we are, and about looking and being looked at. Bronze, wood, mineral paint, oil paint, 80 x 166 x 221cm.
The Duke of Milan (1999) This figure is almost obscured by his clothing, which falls in Renaissance-like folds. Both Renaissance sculptures and the year’s fashions in Milan were among the influences for this work. Bronze, oil paint, 35 x 21 x 84cm.
Man of Honour (1999) The title of this inscrutable figure is taken from the Sicilian phrase used to describe the men of the Cosa Nostra. Here, in depicting the figure in orange workman’s clothes, the artist deliberately encourages us to question who the real men of honour are. Ceramic, oil paint, 33 x 20 x 83cm.
Untitled (Blue Jeans) (2010) A man stands with thumb and forefinger cupping his chin in a traditional posture of contemplation. There is a sense of internal strength and stillness to this physically striking character – he does not appear troubled by his thoughts. Ceramic, oil paint, 27 x 18 x 84cm.
Nobody’s Wedding (2000) A young man in contemporary dress, this sculpture is deliberately ambiguous, as reflected in his unusual title. His clothes, with cap pulled down low, give an impression of shielding him from the outside world. Ceramic, oil paint, 29 x 22 x 86cm.
Standing Woman (2010) A young woman stands motionless but contemplative and alert. She is reduced in scale to 61% of her normal height - the ‘golden ratio’ – confusing the encounter with memories of childhood. Bronze, all weather paint, 35 x 22 x 113cm.
John (Standing) (2009) This man’s worn clothes & appearance pose questions about his identity & his status. Yet the artist has imbued this figure with an intensity & strength of personality that is at odds with the work’s diminished 31” scale. Bronze, oil paint, 30 x 19 x 77cm.
Man and Child (2001) This work was made soon after the artist had his son. The use of blue and white and the way in which the baby faces out to the audience allude to traditional depictions of mother and child. Ceramic, oil paint, 22 x 33 x 84cm.
The Indifferent Sky (2011) A man dressed in simple clothes sits alone. He displays an intensity and sense of internal struggle that is reinforced by the rusted steel bench, tapering towards the ground, on which he sits. Bronze, cor-ten steel, all weather paint, 237 x 120 x 149cm.
Lying Man (1999) A man lies asleep with his head resting on a pillow, while his younger self crouches on his chest, seemingly disturbed by the presence of the viewer. The figures can be read on a number of levels including as a comment on the passing of time. Bronze, oil paint, 125 x 56 x 48cm.
One Step Forward (2004) The figure’s circular white kneepads and orthopaedic arm support are presented as heroic beacons of vulnerability, enhancing the sense of struggle shown on the man’s face. The sculpture has an air of pathos that invites us to provide the missing second part of the title… ‘Two Steps Back’. Ceramic, oil paint, 30 x 33 x 84cm.
Standing Man (2007) An older man stands with his hands clasped behind his back, gazing down with an air of contemplation that is suggestive of a private world quite apart from his immediate surroundings. Bronze, oil paint, wood, 61 x 61 x 175cm.
View the CONFLUX information leaflet
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