Scale factor, totemic pieces
Connection and communication
My first contact with Pope’s work was my visit to the New art centre – chestnut blocks, his word had a sense of community and grouping.
“Nicholas Pope has been making work consistently for more than forty years. At the beginning of his career, he was well known for making mainly wooden sculptures, later he experimented with diverse materials including glass, aluminium, textiles, marble, knitting and porcelain, but predominantly in ceramic.”
“Like many of his peers who emerged in the 1970s, who were preoccupied with finding a new and distinctive sculptural language, Pope’s work marked a disassociation with the brightly coloured, welded metal or moulded plastic sculpture of an earlier generation and he began to be known for using mainly natural materials, which he carved, or more simply, stacked and assembled. The works in the exhibition in the gallery and sculpture park at Roche Court comprise wood, stone, chalk, terracotta and rope. However, whilst these early works reveal his understanding and concern for materials, they are not about the actual materials per se. Instead, he spoke about his sculpture of the time as being about space and that “the way I use space is by affecting the material”. Norbert Lynton wrote in 1980: “Pope needs a material he can work intimately, that resist as well as guides, makes physical demands on the sculptor, possibly quite extreme ones. When he works clay to make marvellously delicate terracottas he has to proceed with the care of a jeweller, when working chalk or sandstone lumps, with the attack of a lumberjack”.”
“We shall know Pope’s sculptures when we can meet them with all of our sensory and emotional doors open, welcoming the multiplicity of their implications. We too must reveal ourselves. Pope is not a sculptor with overt political messages to transmit, yet his sculptures- grouped, loosely lined up, pressed hard together – can be read as social emblems. ” page 9 British Pavilion, Venice Biennale 1980 June 1 – September 28 Nobert Lynton published by Fine Arts Department, the British Council, London 1980
Pope fits ceramics into the broader landscape of modern sculpture. He has pushed himself and his materials to their physical limits. His sculptures are as simple as he can make it without losing the poetic experience which informs it. How sculptures can stand together as a group but individually independent from one another as well. They can make a certain outline together creating another scene from the one that is themselves.
“The dramatic element, the element of athletic display, is a distraction from the making of a sculpture.” How they are put together in connection or detachment from each other can have it’s own separate story to the process of making and function. Sculpture is an art of space. How you fill a space and how the surroundings react or work with it.
To be completely in control of the material and the shape being create. To not intuitively work around the material but to much the material to the limits of our own skills and techniques.
Making sculptures that rarely need a table or social to stand on. His sculptures tend to echo his own height, reach and strength.
None of them invites enjoyment through touch. In some case touching would not be pleasurable, but the real point is that touch would not inform us about the piece. – an opposite statement to the function of my own work. the sensorial aspect of touching would have a whole other narrative to the visual aspect. social emblems.
Lily Crowther, Ceramic Review 266 March/April 2014 Nicholas Pope: Works and Days
New Art Centre, East Winterslow, Salisbury
2 November 2013-12 January 2014