Art UK's Sculpture Project and Newport Musuem and Art Gallery

Art UK’s Sculpture project and Newport Museum and Art Gallery

Art UK serves a valuable purpose and allows small galleries with limited space but important interesting works of art to allow the public to see the collections.  Newport Museum and Art Gallery was the pilot collection for Wales. The sculpture project coordinator for Wales was Andrew Deathe. The Sculpture project photographer was Rolant Dafis, an independent photographer with over 20 years’ experience.

The UK has become the first country in the world to create a free-to-access online photographic showcase of its publicly owned sculpture. The first records began appearing on Art UK in early 2019. Prior to the project, many of these works were without records, images or online access, and many public monuments are not fully recorded and are at risk. The three-year project focused on sculpture dating from the last 1,000 years, held in public collections and outdoor locations across the UK. The national sculpture collection is truly global, offering insights into diverse cultures including twelfth-century Nigeria, Victorian Britain and 1960s New York. The ambitious project is transforming the way people access and learn about their sculpture heritage, and will allow audiences to share knowledge, exchange opinions and visit sculptures, both in-person and online.

Newport’s entry

Newport’s entry is made up of 90 examples which are all listed but only 20 have photographs.
See the link below.

We hope that soon we will all be able to visit the Art Gallery and view the collections in situ. 
Art UK also poses an interesting question - What is sculpture anyway?  It is something I had never thought about and I thought I knew what it was. However, I did not. You can read about it on the link below. 

‘What is sculpture anyway?’

This is something you might not have thought about. In the Oxford English Dictionary, sculpture is defined as: 'the art of making three-dimensional representative or abstract forms, especially by carving stone or wood or by casting metal or plaster.'

Art Uk also provides an article Posted 21 Feb 2019, by Katey Goodwin and Lydiia Figes. 
The selection below includes busts of people which is often what one imagines sculpture to be.  But there is the section of a wayside medieval cross which is still classed as sculpture.

As a charity Art UK had to make choices as funds were not finite. With the help of their Sculpture Steering Panel, they came up with the following. 

1. Generally speaking, the sculptural works included are three-dimensional, high-relief, low-relief, figurative or abstract, static or kinetic, and sometimes interactive. 

2. Sculpture includes reliefs, monuments, tombs, busts, carvings, effigies, ceramics, found objects, assemblages, installations, earth arts.

3. The project is not confined to just 'western' art and includes sculptures from anywhere in the world.

4. Sculptures included in the project can be made from various materials, such as stone (marble, granite, alabaster, etc.)

5. It also included  'found objects' (originating from the French 'object trouvé', it describes art made from a pre-existing object or material, which the artist has designated as 'art') The Medieval Wayside Cross is an example of such an object.

Here are some of the examples from Newport Museum and Art Gallery
We begin with two well known sculptures to regular visitors to the Gallery

William Henry Davies (1871–1940)
Jacob Epstein (1880–1959)

Jacob Epstein made his name as a sculptor of monuments and portraits, and as an occasional painter and illustrator. Epstein was born on 10 November 1880 in New York, of Polish-Jewish parentage. He attended art classes at the Art Students League c.1896 and then went to night school c.1899 where he began sculpting under George Grey Bernard. On the proceeds of illustrating Hutchins Hapgood's The Spirit of the Ghetto (1902) he was able to go to Paris and spent six months at the École des Beaux-Arts, and afterwards studied at the Académie Julian. Epstein settled in London in 1905 and became a British citizen in 1907. He met Picasso, Brancusi, Modigliani in Paris in 1912-13. He then returned to England and worked near Hastings from 1913 to 1916. Epstein became a founding member of the London Group in 1913, and that same year had his first solo show at the Twenty-One Gallery, Adelphi, London. Thereafter he exhibited mainly at the Leicester Galleries. After 1916 he lived and worked in London for the rest of his life. He briefly visited New York in 1927, to attend his one-man show at the Ferragil Gallery. The Arts Council honoured him with a retrospective exhibition at the Tate Gallery in 1953. He was knighted in 1954 and died in London on 19 August 1959.
His subject is poet and writer William Henry Davies who was born in Newport. His father died when he was three years old, and after his mother’s subsequent remarriage, Davies was raised by his grandparents. He attended school until age 14 and then apprenticed with a picture framer while attending night school. At age 22, with a small inheritance, he boarded a ship to New York and spent the following six years train hopping across the United States and Canada, supporting himself through casual labor and panhandling. After a train hopping injury his right leg was amputated of below the knee. Davies returned to Wales and then settled in London, where he devoted his time to writing poetry.

Aneurin Bevan (1897–1960)
Peter Nicholas (1934–2015)

He lectured at Newport Art School, and was appointed Head of School, Faculty of Art and Design in Swansea. His work has been commissioned for places of public note throughout Wales; the diverse repertoire including works in Welsh Slate, bronze and Portland stone. Amongst many works throughout the valleys and further afield, in 1993, he produced a 3 ton carving entitled Mother Sea for the seaside resort of Porthcawl, and in early 2000, a carving in marble together with murals totalling 700 sq feet for the Celtic Manor Resort. His works have been exhibited in a wide range of galleries and festivals throughout Britain and the artist’s versatile skill and use of materials have allowed him to express to the public his fascination with size, sculptural language and communication through visual identity.

Starred Fish
Tony Mann (1927–2013)

Tony Mann was voted ‘Toymaker of the Year’ by the British Toymakers’ Guild for both 1987 and 1988. He originally trained as an industrial designer and worked in this field for twenty years in both this country and Canada, (where he emigrated in 1962.) He later set up degree courses at the College of Art and Design in Nova Scotia where he still teaches one term a year. The rest of the year is devoted to toy making, and.when in England, he is based at Chulmleigh, Devon.

Newport Doll,
Christina Mitchell (1943 - present)

This was commissioned on the theme of Newport and it was the aim in the 1970s for Newport Art Gallery to commission a work of art on that theme every year. She was born in 1943 and came to Wales in 1974. Christina Mitchell states, Newport Doll was conceived as a figurative three dimensional painting about the city of Newport. The moving image at the centre of the piece is the Transporter bridge, probably the most iconic monument in the whole of South Wales. The image is designed to rotate at a similar speed to that experienced on the bridge. The exotic landscape and the fruit on the hat reflect the sea trade connections to the city, and the pit head winder the area around. Entering the city is not easy on foot, the roads and cars have a dominant place, hence the particular design of the shoes. The umbrella needs no explanation, but the gloved hand uses an interest of trompe l’oeil, and is a partly carved and partly painted surface. The overall feeling of the piece is probably more 1940s than 1980s when it was made, but , for me, this helps to convey the atmosphere of this historic and interesting city

Back Yard,
Gillian Pittman (b.1937)

From her earliest years she painted, following a tradition in her family going back several generations. She spent a year at the Slade School of Fine Art in London doing life drawing, before going to medical school. She also went to ceramics classes in London and spent some time at the Chelsea pottery. She moved to Gower, South Wales, in 1971, and went to classes at Swansea University given by the sculptor Gillian Still, and then set up her own studio. After a 28 year break from ceramics she took it up again when she retired from General Practice in 2007.

Abstract Form
Peter Hayes (b.1946)

This was produced in 1997 and is stoneware slab with keyhole.
Peter Hayes was born in Birmingham, England, where, aged 12, he was selected to attend the Moseley School of Art. In 1961 he left to study at the Birmingham College of Art before travelling extensively in Africa. Over the course of several years, he worked as a ceramic artist with tribes and village potters who inspired him with the exquisite work they produced using very limited technology and tools. Moving on to India, Nepal, Japan, Korea and New Mexico, he found similar skills and adopted the techniques he learned. In 1982, Hayes came home and built a studio in a disused toll house on Cleveland Bridge, Bath. His work now builds on the techniques and methods he learned during his travels to create ceramic art that is often inspired by memories of landscapes he has seen.

A Column Fallen Under Its Own Stone
Mervyn Baldwin (1934–2013)

Mervyn Baldwin was born in 1934 in England, Lincolnshire, and died in 2013.
He was a painter and sculptor and studied at Leicester College of Art. He won the 'Prix de Rome' for Sculpture in 1960, at the British School at Rome, 1960-62. He taught at Birmingham, Leicester, 1957-65, Cardiff, from 1965, and Newport 1970s, Colleges of Art. He was a member of the 56 Group Wales and has undertaken sculptural commissions for Heath Hospital, Cardiff, the North Wales Arts Association and Holyhead Comprehensive School. He later lived at Ballanchuish, Argyll, where he worked as a sculpture restorer.

Medieval Wayside Cross
unknown artist
Newport Art Gallery wayside cross

This is an 'object trouvé'. See explanation above. The fine carving on this stone cross dates from medieval Newport, between 1450 and 1500. It was found in the mud of the River Usk during excavations before constructing the present Newport Bridge in 1925. It is lantern-shaped with four faces, comprising a crucifixion with the Virgin Mary and St John (see illustration), St. Margaret spearing her dragon and (probably) St Catherine. The fourth face is no longer there.  There has been scholarly debate on where it may once have been sited. There is the base of a wayside or preaching cross in St. Woolos Churchyard, which was probably moved there from a site on Stow Hill (marked by a Blue Plaque) but it cannot be conclusively linked to this cross head. Alternatively, it may have been a market cross, standing near to the present Newport Market. Most of these medieval crosses, usually displaying holy images like the Newport Cross, were destroyed following an ordinance of the Puritan Parliament in 1643. In 2003, the Leader of Newport Council commissioned a replica cross which was carved by expert stonemasons and erected at the end of Newport High Street.

Click below to see other examples of Newport’s sculpture

With thanks to Oliver Blackmore and Sian King


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