In 2015 100 years will have passed since the death in the trenches at the age of 23 of the outstandingly talented sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. Influenced by Jacob Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska was an early exponent of the practise of direct carving, originally introduced by Brancusi.
Direct carving adhered to the doctrine of truth to materials, allowing the innate qualities of the stone, marble or wood to show through simple forms, respecting the block, and often polished to bring out the colour and grain. This ethos of simple forms created through truth to materials was at the heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement, which also used nature as a source of inspiration, particularly for pattern, in the strong belief that art and craft enhances people’s lives.
Discussing Mexican sculpture, Henry Moore said, “Its 'stoniness', by which I mean its truth to material, its tremendous power without loss of sensitiveness, its astonishing variety and fertility of form-invention and its approach to a full three-dimensional conception of form, make it unsurpassed in my opinion by any other period of stone sculpture.”
Moore also observed of truth to material, “the artist shows an instinctive understanding of his material, its right use and possibilities.”
This is the thrust of this year’s exhibition. Barbara Hepworth said, “The sculptor carves because he must.” Whether an artist carves or models he/she is, presumably, inspired by the medium of choice and works with it to create pieces which emphasise form? It may be stone or wood, but it could be glass and its prismatic reflective qualities, the modernity of steel, the classicism of bronze, or the malleability of clay.
Truth to Material is an opportunity for the exhibiting artists to ‘talk’ about their chosen medium and how it expresses their ideas and creativity. The exhibition will run from 9 May - 18 July.