Sculpture in and of our times
From the personal to the political and the universal, sculpture past and present has often reflected on identity, the human condition and societal changes. Exploring the multifaceted languages of contemporary sculpture, this panel discussion will consider innovative investigations of form and matter, and how other disciplines may inform and enrich sculptural practice, whether through the collision of art and science, conjuring up literary influences or looking down the lens of history. In reflecting on the challenges of our times, sculpture invites us to think about our shared experience. This, perhaps, may encourage us to think long term in a short-term world, or, as philosopher Roman Krznaric invites us to, be ‘good ancestors’.
Patrick Hurst (b. 1988) graduated in 2011 from the Cardiff School of Art and Design in Wales, UK with a BA (Hons) Fine Art. After graduation, he returned to his native Cambridge and worked at Kettle’s Yard Gallery, home to an eclectic collection of 20th century British masters. During this time, he realised that his passion for material, especially steel, combined with his prodigious ability to handle tools to model form could turn him into a skilled artist. With his visual language now established, his path as a full-time artist began.
Hurst’s visual identity revolves around the minimal language of abstraction with a strong connection to geometry. The artist applies mathematical laws when conceiving the shapes of his sculptures, and most of his work has a satisfactory sense of proportion derived from Euclidean geometry. Hurst’s work sits on the line between art and engineering. Throughout his practice, the artist has honed his technical skills and employed manual machining, computer-aided design, and large- and small-scale industrial manufacturing processes to transform the raw materials for his sculptures.
The results are tactile shapes that are highly finished and frequently use mirror- polished surfaces to challenge the viewer’s expectations of reality in their encounter with their reflection in the artwork. Hurst’s sculptures are therefore informed both by the objective and the subjective realm: the first fuelled by science and facts, the second by the emotional response of his audience.
Angela Palmer is a sculptor and installation artist with works in major museums worldwide including The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington; The National Galleries of Scotland; The Ashmolean, Oxford; and The Science Museum in London. Palmer currently has eight sculptures on exhibition at The Guggenheim in Bilbao. Mapping is at the core of her work; her recent sculpture of the coronavirus particle, The Sphere That Changed the World, was unveiled by Dame Professor Sarah Gilbert, pioneer of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. On exhibition at Masterpiece is her sculpture The Last Frontier, (2021), a dramatically upscaled brain, engraved on glass, created in collaboration with Harvard Medical School in the US. Harvard's 7 Tesla machine achieved unprecedented detail of the brain which was scanned during a 100 hour period.
Melanie Vandenbrouck is Curator of Sculpture, 1900-Now at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Prior to this she was Curator of Art Post-1800, at Royal Museums Greenwich, where she curated the Contemporary Arts Programme and the major exhibition, The Moon. She trained at the Ecole du Louvre and Sorbonne University in Paris, and earned her PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art.
Moderated by Farah Nayeri
Farah Nayeri is an arts and culture writer for the New York Times and the author of Takedown: Art and Power in the Digital Age. She also hosts the CultureBlast podcast. Originally from Iran, she lives and works in London. Nayeri began her journalism career in Paris as a reporter for the Time Magazine and a contributor to The Wall Street Journal. She later became a correspondent of Bloomberg in Paris, Rome and London, covering politics and economics, then culture. Nayeri is a public speaker and panel moderator, regularly chairing conferences for the New York Times and for institutions around the world. She is a classically trained pianist and a devotee of flamenco dance.
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