LOFT caught up with the world famous sculptor on his recent visit to Hong Kong
What inspired you to become a sculptor?
Art does tend to run in my family – my parents were both painters, my great uncle was a very successful creative architect who designed an Italianate village in the Wales coast and one of my sisters is a ceramic artist. Therefore, the environment at home encouraged and stimulated an aspiring young artist. As a child I played with clay and plasticine and whilst at school, it was recognized that I had a three-dimensional bent.
What was the biggest challenge in becoming a success?
Unlike painting where the artist can convey and even exhibit his art with limited expenditure, sculpture does require a large, permanent studio. As I model in clay or wax and then cast into bronze, the set up costs can be prohibitive for an artist beginning his career.
Who and what are you inspired by?
In my work, without doubt, inspiration comes from my interest in human and life forms. It has been enormously influenced by many factors; my experience of living some formative years in Italy at the heart of the Italian Renaissance and my eclectic interest in other art forms such as early Egyptian and Tang Art Dynasty. There have been two or three mentors in my life who have supported and coaxed my sculptural abilities from a very young age and indeed up to the present time.
What kind of house would feature your work?
My sculpture suits a multitude of styles – whether it be a minimalistic penthouse apartment (where the work can either be silhouetted in front of large paneled windows or against a simple marble backdrop) or around chic designer furnishings. Equally, my work will sit very well amongst Asian and European classical interiors. I have always believed that if a sculpture is strong enough, and the scale is right for the situation, then it will suit almost any style setting – whether it be interior or exterior. At the moment, I have installed a series of sculptures (The Leapers) in the new IFC residential building in Shanghai which look amazing framed by panels of glass in front of the contemporary high rise buildings.
What was your favourite project to work on?
Each project demands different disciplines – sometimes I design a sculpture for a specific site which can be either on or off plan, whilst others develop through working directly with a model in my studio.
What do you think of the arts scene in Hong Kong?
I am enormously excited by the Hong Kong arts scene which now appears to be one of the global arts centres. Strong patronage inevitably attracts art and at the moment artists are flocking from around the world to Asia and it is particularly evident in Hong Kong, as the gateway to mainland China.
What is your next project?
There are a number of things ongoing at the moment. One is to design a very large series of sculptures for mainland China, details of which I am unable to divulge at the moment, and another is to design and make a pair of large bronze relief panels for a new residential building in central London.