Study in Sculpture: The Great Italian Influence

Many of my formative years were spent in Italy. Without doubt, the greatest influence on my work today is my period between 18-22 which I spent studying in a drawing studio in Florence, working with woodcarvers, marble carvers at Pietrasanta and drawing in museums, galleries and landscapes throughout Italy.

I also trained under Nerina Simi in Florence and worked as an apprentice marble carver in Carrara.

It was a chance encounter with a young girl sitting on a pillar in Italy that planted the seed of inspiration that informed so many of my best-known works.

It was here also that Louise Michail, ancient art via borgospesso  in Milan approached me.  They bought one of my life size figures (Louise III), intrigued initially that the bronze shared the same name as the gallery owner’s mother. 

Louise II. Large Figurative Bronze Sculpture by the Sea.

However, they then went on to invest in a whole series of my WE Figures (12 in total), which had been exhibited in the Robert Bowman Gallery, under the title “Uncovered”.  

I experimented with different chemicals on the bronzes to create exciting patinations giving the impression that the bronzes had just been pulled from the earth.  This had been inspired by my years spent studying Etruscan, Greek and Roman sculptures in Italian museums.

51-WE1-Small-54cms-Contemporary-Figurative-Bronze-Sculpture-with-antique-opalescent-red-patina-on-pillar 51-WE6-Small-54cms-Contemporary-Figurative-Bronze-Sculpture-with-antique-opalescent-blue-patina-on-pillar 51-WE8-Small-54cms-Contemporary-Figurative-Bronze-Sculpture-with-antique-opalescent-green-patina-on-pillar 51-WE5-Small-54cms-Contemporary-Figurative-Bronze-Sculpture-with-antique-opalescent-green-patina-on-pillar 51-WE12-Small-54cms-Contemporary-Figurative-Bronze-Sculpture-with-antique-opalescent-blue-patina-on-pillar 51-WE12-Small-54cms-Contemporary-Figurative-Bronze-Sculpture-with-antique-opalescent-blue-patina-on-pillar

I was also approached by a collector who was renovating a large ex convent and church near Lucca in Tuscany, to create a sculpture for a niche in a hallway next to an old chapel. Helen was made as if to “hold up” the roof within the niche. 



You can see Helen also reaching for the skies on my studio here in Cumbria.  


I intend to see the current exhibition at The Louvre  – The Springtime of the Renaissance – dedicated to Sculpture and the Arts in Florence during the period 1400-1460.  The exhibition proposes to capture through masterpieces of sculpture the origin and ‘Miracle’ of the Renaissance in Florence.  Sculpture was of course the branch of figurative art in which this new artistic and cultural movement was first expressed.

I am particularly interested by the great sculptures and paintings of Masaccio and Lorenzo Ghiberti’s ‘St. Matthew’ from the Chiesa e Museo di Orsanmichele.

For further information, contact David Williams-Ellis here.