Sunday, June 30, 2013

'hidden narrative'

The outing on Wednesday to the Cass Sculpture Foundation was a multi-pleasurable experience.  At a simple level I enjoyed the stroll through the woods on a warm sunny day.  There is something about woods which delights, but also causes a frisson of uncertainty: not being able to see clearly, a view consisting of and impeded by trees.
When we parked the car, I could just see someone standing in what looked like the outline structure of a house.  Initially I took this to be another visitor, or maybe a worker erecting a piece or a building.  But having got out of the car, the figure had not moved, and we were definitely intrigued.
Folly (The Other Self) by Sean Henry was far and away the piece of sculpture which made the greatest impression on me.  It seemed such a perfect sculpture for the setting, reminding me so much of the situation of the house we lived in for a couple of years in New Hampshire.  There were woods around us there too.
Curiosity aroused I wanted to capture different views to contemplate later.
Throughout my snapping I felt intrusive, and did not venture into the internal space - unlike the piles of folk when the piece was in a more public arena I later discovered.  This interview also presented me with the phrase that clicked: 'I am interested in the concept of a "hidden narrative" within my work, but I am not really interested in storytelling, specifically.'  It is fascinating how often others are brilliant at summing up the words that unlock a personal stumbling block in the search for a way of describing one's own ambition.  
This piece of sculpture has the power to haunt one's thoughts and imagination, and it was no surprise to find that we had seen one of Sean Henry's works before:  Couple, off the coast at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.  (The photo below from here.)
We had seen it from shore on our trip up to Northumberland in 2008, but had been too far away to take a photo.  Again, we had been intrigued, but obviously not enough to find out about the artist at that time.
On a different level, I was drawn to the effect of the ivy on the trees and elsewhere.  At some point the gardeners had cut the ivy, and what was left on the trees was like a kind of lace mantle, or a three dimensional drawing on the still living trunks.  I like the cut edge which makes an interesting contrast with the otherwise organic lines.
Elsewhere the ivy also had a dramatic effect: on the flint-dressed boundary wall around part of the estate the dead stems resembled a kind of fossil on the already beautiful background of the set-in stone.
All this before lunch (which we had at nearby West Dean gardens), and back home in time to watch the tennis on what turned out to be an extraordinary day at Wimbledon.


  1. I have not come upon Sean Henry's work before, but this is a fascinating piece. I also love the title, 'hidden self' ahhh so much is conjured up here. I need to do some research on him - I really like the whole idea of not being interested in story telling but in hidden narratives: there is so much here to think about and appreciate.

  2. Isn't it wonderful that there is so much for our thoughts to be provoked by.
    Thank you Eirene for the links to your posts about Gordon Baldwin. I have ordered the book of the exhibition, and am now eagerly awaiting.

  3. You're a real fan then, Olga. He is an inspired artist and I can never get enough of his work.

    It's a pity that ceramics does not get the recognition it deserves in the art world. So many people just don't get it....