The Spectator July 2016

Finding beauty in a battlesite

Talk turned – briefly – from Brexit to another battle last night at the unveiling of Jolyon Fenwick’s ‘Zero Hour’ at Sladmore Contemporary. ‘When I was growing up the word ‘Somme’ was so doom-laden it was practically taboo,’ Fenwick told Miss Steerpike. ‘So I was obviously rather fascinated by it.’ He took himself and a camera off to France and was amazed by ‘how impartial and beautiful’ the landscape was. The book and photography show contains striking images of the battlefield sites, one hundred years later.

Lord Dalmeny, chairman of Sothebys, has also visited – to follow in the tracks of his dispatch-driver grandfather’s Rolls Royce. ‘I’m cross I don’t own one,’ he said disconsolately. ‘But I suppose I’m to blame for that.’ Meanwhile Count Tony Bromovsky admitted he’s never been, ‘but these pictures are so realistic, I feel like I have.’

Other guests included the Marquess of Worcester, Meredith Ostrum, Martha Ward, Tom Parker-Bowles and Jemima Khan. They spilled onto the street to smoke and make merry; in fact, the crowd was so thick that many struggled to see the exhibition at all. Not that it mattered to Nicky Haslam. ‘Olivia de Havilland is also one hundred today,’ he whispered to Miss S. ‘That’s much more important.’


Wall Street Journal

Sophie Dickens, great-great grand daughter of Charles Dickens, is a figurative sculptor inspired by ancient Greek tradition, as well as the ‘kinematic’ skills of photographer Eadward Muybridge. Meticulous study of anatomy and a course in dissection for artists, has given her a proper understanding of muscle, bone and sinew. She won the V & A award for sculpture of the human form in 2007.

Luke Syson, curator and Renaissance art historian, is a serious admirer of Sophie’s work. He writes: ‘All the rooms of my New York apartment are energised by the presence of Sophie’s bronzes. I find her pieces powerful, funny, sexy, innocent and passionate.’ Sophie’s Tale of Two Lovers seems self-explanatory, but starts with the lightning flash, continues with passion, quarrels, making up, and final blissful union.

Sophie decided to paint many of her new sculptures in brilliant colours. She says ‘there is a perception that bronzes need to look antique, but in Greece and Rome they were painted, and the colour has simply fallen off with age. I want my sculptures to look new and bright.’ She chose bright orange for ’Still Together Forever’ – the colour of happiness.

Sophie’s work has been commissioned for public and private spaces around the world, including Russia and America. The distinguished architect Sir Michael Hopkins is one of her collectors.


Full article here

Country and Town House


Sladmore Contemporary

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.