The Revelation of the Head



Our 13th century barn is the setting for a carefully chosen selection of some of the best heads that history has to offer; ranging from ancient Greek and Egyptian examples, (see below) to contemporary depictions such as painter Jonathan Yeo’s first foray into sculpture – a large scale bronze self-portrait Homage to Paolozzi – created from an ingenious combination of virtual reality and advanced 3D scanning.

These cross-temporal, cross-cultural heads will be shown in our medieval, 140ft long barn in two rows, facing inwards towards each other. They will fill the length of this magnificent space, calling to mind the ancient arcades of Greece and Rome, evoked in British displays of classical busts in institutions such as the National Portrait Gallery and Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. A Roman marble portrait of Emperor Antonius Pius, created in 2nd century CE, a Head of a Male created in 550-500 BCE Egypt and an Italian, 17th century terracotta head of a man are certainly the standout objects which originally pertain to these famous archaic cultures.

Contemporary sculpture draws from, as well as plays with, these timeless images. Emily Young’s Purbeck Head and Gavin Turk’s Ragut Kirn (2010) do very different things with important formal similarities. Both explore roundness – the head as a mathematical sphere – playing with the simplicity of surface and of form. Yet one artist (Young) gives privilege to the solidity and stability of their head and the other (Turk) discovers its ontology as a cavern, a casing which can be exposed and collapsed in on itself and its contents. Another, Laurence Edwards, draws on the natural entropy of our reoccurring material – clay – that finds life for the second time with Edwards’ desire for vitality. This is found gauged in malleable marks, which are then transformed into bronze with the wax encasing escaping like breath.

We are also pleased to present the estate of late sculptor Brian Taylor. Taylor, who died in 2013, was an extraordinarily gifted artist, fascinated with human and animal forms. Taylor only rarely exhibited his sculptures publicly since the early 1960s and they remain best known to a select circle of friends and patrons. This exhibition, therefore, will provide the opportunity to view important works from early in his career such as head of Boy from Antigua, 1958 (which won the Slade’s Rome Prize) as well as those which are later: Gabriel aged Seventeen 2013. It is worth drawing attention to work such as the stainless-steel Italian Woman by Jeff Koons and Keith Coventry’s gold-plated Supermodel (Kate Moss) 2000 for their novel takes on the human form, all interested in reworking the traditions of certain materials as well as being inspired by modernism and minimalism, first pioneered by sculptors Alexander Calder and Alberto Giacometti.

Artists to include: Christy Symington, David Mach, Elisabeth Frink, Emily Young, Jeff Koons, Jonathan Yeo, Laurence Edwards, Sean Henry, John Davies, Nic Fiddian-Green, Glynn Williams, Brian Taylor, Nuria Torres, Keith Coventry, Abigail Fallis, Ralph Brown, Ellen Christiansen, Gavin Turk, Peter Burke and Kevin Francis Gray.


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