Leading British sculptor Simon Gudgeon, best known for his iconic public sculptures of birds at rest, and whose works feature in the collections of the British Royal Family, launches his latest series, Skulls, across the USA this autumn as it is juried into three major museum shows.
Skulls reveals an exciting evolution for Gudgeon’s artistic practice and this is the very first time the series will be shown publicly outside of The Gallery at Sculpture by the Lakes. This Dorset sculpture park was created by the artist to provide a unique backdrop for his sculptures and a tranquil environment for arts, garden and wildlife enthusiasts alike.
Cast in bronze, the series began with a tiger skull created to raise funds for the Born Free Foundation. Gudgeon has since focussed on creating life-size skulls of cats including Leopard, Cougar and Bobcat, whilst plans are afoot for a monumental Tiger skull. As a progression of his recognisable works of abstract bird sculptures, Gudgeon is also working on a series of enlarged bird skulls – Bald Eagle (see image above), and Raven and Falcon (in production) – which emphasise the intense beauty of their skeletal forms.
Skulls will be on show at the following museum exhibitions:
- Western Visions at America's National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, from 30 August – 21 September 2014 (Cougar Skull and Bald Eagle Skull)
- Birds in Art, at Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin from 6 September – 16 November 2014 (Bald Eagle Skull)
- Society of Animal Artists 54th Annual Exhibition which will premiere at The Wildlife Experience at Parker, Colorado from 23 August – 22 October 2014 (Tiger Skull)
Gudgeon explains the inspiration for his latest work: ‘I have always used skulls for reference when sculpting large-scale forms of birds and other animals in life. I find them rather beautiful and felt it was a natural evolution of my work to create skulls as sculptural objects.’
Gudgeon’s work is already included in the permanent collections of several prominent art museums in the USA, including the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, and America’s National Museum of Wildlife Art,, where Isis is the only work by a British Sculptor included in the Sculpture Trail. He is also represented by the Diehl Gallery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Gilman Contemporary in Sun Valley, Idaho, and Ca’ D’Oro gallery, in Miami.
Using a stripped-back aesthetic, nature is a major influence in Gudgeon’s practice. He works directly from his encounters with, and observations of, live subjects and the natural world. He captures specific moments through the crafting of clean lines that suggest rather than depict a form, a movement or a feeling, provoking a strong connection between the viewer and object. He sculpts primarily in bronze, and occasionally in marble, granite, glass or stainless steel. Terracotta clay, oil-based Chavant clay, epoxy resin or foam, are used for the initial modelling, depending on the nature and scale of the subject and the intended result.
Born in Yorkshire, UK, in 1958, Gudgeon ‘lived deep in the countryside on the family farm, learning the essential arts of observation, evaluation and interpretation of how animals and birds behave, both with each other and man’. After studying law at Reading University, he qualified as a solicitor, starting painting only in his thirties and first exhibiting at London’s Battersea Exhibition Centre in 1992. An impulse purchase of artist’s clay at the age of 40 led into his new career as a sculptor, in which he was able to respond to that which lay closest to his heart: the natural world.
Recently, trips to Africa, Asia and Australasia have enabled Gudgeon to broaden his subject matter and experiment with a variety of styles and methods. Gudgeon is relentlessly innovative in the studio, aiming to ‘move away from the purely representational towards something that has a deeper subtext’.