I found that I had seen in work in Kettle's Yard in Cambridge, but simply had not singled it out from all the other wondrous stuff in that collection. He was very much a modernist sculptor, carving in stone, alabaster, or wood, but whose work did not receive the attention of the greats like Moore and Hepworth just before him, and Chadwick, Armitage, or Butler just younger than him. He certainly deserves attention, and two aspects of his work struck me particularly.
Swimmer 1988 51 x 58.5 x 9cm Ketton stoneThat is how much the carvings by Munawa Manhenga look like them. When I worked in Zimbabwe in 1983 and 1985 I bought a few carvings, of which these two are the biggest (about 20cm high), and both by Munawa Mahenga:
BrideIt would be interesting if the sculptors of 20th Century Europe, having been influenced by traditional carvings of Africa amongst others, then went on themselves to influence later artists in Africa - in this case in Zimbabwe.
The other aspect of Kennethson's work which struck me forcefully, and around which I am now trying to get my head is his carving of waves. This apparently was a subject which attracted him, and to which he returned again and again. I have never really thought about waves as being a subject suitable for rendering in stone, other than perhaps in cut lines, or in bas relief. But Kennethson's waves are solid and stylized, making a rock to bang my head against!
Wave 1970s 42 x 23 x 20cm Brown Hornton stone
Waves 1980s 46 x 37 x 15cm Clipsham stoneAfter looking at these photos in the book this morning I walked to the village pond and spent a long time looking at the wakes the ducks created, and the circles caused by fish touching the surface. These are not waves, granted, and Kennethson apparently was most taken by waves crashing on rocks; but it is certainly worth pursuing the exercise further I think.
Nature provides us with an infinity of wonders, and I believe that it is the artist's mission to help us look better, and to see many different details.