30 April 2022: Anna Gillespie New Sculpture – Opens 7 May
Please join us for the opening on 7 May. The artist will be in attendance between 1 and 5 p.m.
Anna’s talk and tour of the work begins at 2 p.m.
Anna was born in Farnham in 1964. She studied PPE at Wadham College Oxford and then International Relations at LSE. In 1988 Anna returned to sculpture, studying stone masonry and carving in Bath before going to the Centro d’Arte, Verrocchio, Italy to work as studio assistant to sculptor Nigel Konstam. She then completed an MA in Fine and Media Arts in Cheltenham.
Anna Gillespie’s work is in the collections of The Cass Sculpture Foundtion, The Prudential, Burghley House Sculpture Park, The Somerset Museum, Museo Arte Contemporanea Sicilia, Bodrum Sculpture Park Turkey and also in private collections throughout America, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Australia.
The two sculptures pictured above have in common that they both use the acorn as their source material, literally in the case of Quercus, then moulded and cast into bronze for Strong Man.
The most notable commonality is that they are both sculptures of the same person, Anna’s eldest son Ruben. Strong Man II, in its archetypal child-pose, is a recreation of a sculpture originally made in masking tape when the subject was a three-year-old. Quercus was modelled for by Ruben, now aged 21.
‘Centuries do I stand here
Thinking thoughts profound and drear,
Dreaming solemn dreams sublime
Of the mysteries of Time.
Everything is Part of me
Firmament and moving sea
I of all that is am part
Stone and star and human heart
Primal cause etern, self-wrought
Majesty transcending thought
This my substance and my soul
Origin, desire and goal’
Extracts from Saga of the Oak by William Henry Venable
Over the last dozen years or so Anna has attempted through her work to recapture a feeling of immersion in nature, often employing beech nuts, acorn cups, twigs, galls – with these natural found objects then cast into bronze. The act of gathering each autumn the artist considered a meditation; on the beauty of nature and our human place within it. She describes it as humbling, viscerally realising the way in which we humans are just another mass product of nature – all fundamentally the same and yet no two alike.
She has also continued her exploration of the human figure in plaster – a material more often associated with the artist’s studio. It marks a preference for experimentation and frankness over the formality of the bronze edition. ‘Solid Bronze’ is almost never so in sculpture – it is predominantly hollow. The hollowness is accentuated, in terms of the sculpting process and raw emotion in the finished figures.
Featuring prominently as ever in this new exhibition are Anna’s unique bronze figures, which often appear with found objects; old rusting utensils, boat or machine tools and parts. Again these have a raw, emotional edge to them and it is in part their immediacy (particularly in reference to the process of lost wax casting as opposed to using moulding and bronze editions) that she is attracted to.
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh
Philip Larkin ‘The Trees’
Thank you for reading.