Jon Buck: Fruiting Body, Almuth Tebbenhoff: Moonrise, Eilis O'Connell: Gourd Form, Lynn Chadwick: Detector
Gallery Pangolin has a unique gallery setting, tucked away in the village of Chalford, on an old Victorian industrial site and working foundry. As I drive through the gates, I can see a giant sculpture of an open hand guarding the doorway of an enormous warehouse, there are unfinished pieces lurking in sheds, men and women in dusty red boiler suits move large moulds here and there, the familiar hum of circular saws is the daily soundtrack. There’s a creative energy here.
Pangolin Editions is a world class foundry and the gallery is a showcase for the unique and excellent work being created here. Celebrating twenty five years, it strives to exhibit the very best sculpture in the UK. Famous ‘alumni’ include Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst.
The current exhibition takes its name from the synthesis of four female and four male sculptors, whose abstract and tactile exhibits offer a fresh and inspiring exposition. The gallery is as it should be, a spartan, peaceful environment in which to showcase each beautiful piece, some colourful, some smooth, others rough and spikey. Stretching our conceptual imagination, the three bronzes of Peter Randall-Page appear as intestinal, swirling and other worldly. His sketches Walnut 1 and Walnut IV conjure naturalistic forms.
I reach out to touch Jon Buck's playful Fruiting Body bronze, with electric orange painted patina. Polymorph is a little beast that is about to scuttle off the table. Symphysis is equally tactile, and accompanying prints I want, want, want. Simple, graphic shapes that are contemporary and would look relevant in any home.
The work of Lynn Chadwick is exquisite. A sculptor who lived locally, he is in the stable of artists who are consistently shown at Pangolin. He began sculpting at the age of thirty five, and only six years later won the International Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale 1956, pipping Giacometti to the post. His spiky, angular abstractions are here to see, with all their tactile marks, a style that became his signature and is much admired the world over. Detector has a dalek like presence, it makes me smile – although I’m not sure why and Pyramid 1966 stands firm in the centre of the gallery, holding its own. Lion 1 guards the gallery like a boisterous pet, sculpted from stainless steel, who will always wear his shiny silver coat and never grow old.
Ann Christopher: The Dark Is Equal To The Light, John Hoskin: Bronce Piece I, Peter Randall-Page: Bronze Piece II, Charlotte Mayer: Spiral Form
Charlotte Mayer's work is elegant, thin swooshes of bronze, light as air, holding no weight in complete contrast to Bucks weighty pieces, proving the versatility of this medium. Cleverly entitled Release III and Release IV these feathery, twisting pieces could float away. Spiral Form is mesmerising in its hypnotic swirling wheel, drawing you in for a closer look.
Gourd Form and Kidney by Eilis O’Connell are immediately tactile. The gallery assistant allows me to stroke the smooth patina of Gourd Form (it won’t stain) as if stroking the cheek of a lover – they take on vital human form both physically and somehow emotionally. Sublime Geometry is kept on Cath’s desk – it’s her favourite piece and she likes to keep it close by!
The work of John Hoskin is something different all together. It’s industrial, masculine, sculpted with an engineers eye. Scaled down studies for grand high rise buildings perhaps. Ann Christopher explores both horizontal and vertical length in her work – gorgeous Resting Line represents such simplicity, it is immaculate and orderly. The Dark is Equal to Light has a phallic, symbolic presence – a monument to bronze.
Finally, the works of Almuth Tebbenhoff are sculpted from marble, ceramic and bronze with unusual sketches representing the complete range of her skill. Giocoliere and Moonrise delicately sit in the 3D opaque beauty, creating their own little shadows. They at once evoke delicacy and gravitas.
Sculpture is an art form that is tangible, often used as a bold expression or declaration of honour. Barbara Hepworth writes, “I felt the most intense pleasure in piercing the stone in order to make an abstract form and space” and it’s that intensity that guests to this exhibition can capture.
Synthesis runs until 21st October, Mon - Fri 10am till 6pm and Sat 10am till 1pm. Visit www.gallery-pangolin.com for further info. You can also see a selection of sculptures as part of the opening of the Walled Garden at the Museum in the Park until the end of December.
Sarah Edmonds is an Italian graduate from University College London, where she also studied History of Art and a short course at Slade School of Fine Art. She's been a tour guide in Tuscany and now works in marketing for Authentic Adventures, a travel company based in Stonehouse that specialises in painting holidays.