Curating beautifully honest interpretations of the natural world for 50 years
While the Swinging Sixties might be better known for the developments in the music and fashion industries, it also impacted on the thriving art scene. It was in the midst of this cultural revolution that Sladmore Contemporary was established at 32 Bruton Place in 1965. Situated just off Berkeley Square, the gallery has been exhibiting contemporary and modern sculpture for over 50 years.
Originally established as a gallery of ‘Animaliers’ sculpture, selling bronze sculpture by well-known sculptors of the 19th and 20th century, they now represent a much wider range of artists, including ceramists, multimedia assemblage artists, stone carvers and medallists. Though they represent a broader range of subjects,
it continues to specialises in sculpture that draws inspiration from the natural world, from Nic Fiddian-Green’s monumental, aged bronze horse heads, popular landmarks the world over, to Mark Coreth’s highly textured animals in action. Their fixation is with the impact of 3D objects and the power of making.
Their first floor gallery is a veritable cabinet of wonders, holding a continuous, varied display of work, while the ground floor hosts their regular one-man exhibitions. The stable includes more than 20 contemporary artists including Nick Bibby, Sophie Dickens, Roger Law, Rupert Merton, Kensuke Fujiyoshi and Rose Corcoran.
However, for those who are looking for something with a longer history, there is a smaller selection of ancient sculpture dating from 300 BC to 20th-century Modern masters, such as Elizabeth Frink, Marino Marini and Lynn Chadwick.
In a nod to its founding focus, the sister gallery on Jermyn Street continues to show rare and important sculpture by 19th and 20th century masters, such as Rembrandt Bugatti, Edgar Degas and Auguste Rodin. Both galleries have regularly shown at most major international art fairs, including TEFAF Maastricht, Masterpiece London and the Paris Biennale, a testament to the high calibre of art the gallery continues to curate.
These days, it is far from fashionable to create art that is true to the subject and is honest and transparent in its aim; to simply portray an image or impression of the model and to create a beautiful object. But, whether you have an underlying affection for animals or simply find the natural world fascinating, the combination of an artistic interpretation of nature with elements of beauty and a well-crafted aesthetic are a powerful antidote to the more frenzied elements of modern life. Their artists create works that are not egotistical confirmations of power and wealth, they are beautiful, exquisitely crafted collectables to be enjoyed, handled and contemplated by generations to come.
All of their bronzes are produced in small limited editions. The artist creates the original model in clay or another malleable medium, which is then cast in bronze by a specialist foundry – normally using the lost wax (cire perdue) process – an enormously skilled and labour intensive technique first used over 5,000 years ago. While modern craftsmen founders have technological advantages, such as welding equipment, power tools and rubber moulds, the core process remains basically unchanged.
Once the piece has been through the many complicated stages, it is then cast in bronze at temperatures of up to 700°C. The raw bronze, which is an alloyof copper and tin, is then worked or ‘chased’ by the foundry before the bronze is heated and the coloured patina is applied.The finished bronze, normally signed and numbered by the artist, will have taken some two to three months to complete.
It is the combination of half a century’s insight into the industry and the beautifully evocative forms that result from such highly intensive labour processes that ensure that any purchase made from Sladmore will be cherished for generations to come.