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Artist/Naturalist Pages


Peter Randall-Page

Peter Randall-Page is an extraordinary British sculptor and visual artist whose connection to nature began in the Sussex countryside. For Randall-Page, organic forms are places to begin, shapes that push the artist to explore his own response to them.
00 year stone

Randall-Page does not simply render natural forms. Like a poet plunging through metaphor toward meaning, he discovers ways to shape the form's felt energies. Natural forms are ambiguous; they are all elaborations of Earth’s great themes: shared origins, interdependence, obedience to gravity and the circle.

Many commentators have noted the ambiguity of Randall-Page's sculpture, its metamorphic qualities. His sculptures refuse to be one thing or another. Echoing life, they continually shift phase, defying categories such as animal, vegetable and mineral.

See In His Own Words, beneath photos.

 

 

A Sampling of the Work

rosettes
Vessel
Forest of Dean stone, 1988
Cone
Forest of Dean stone, 1988

 
teign setting
 

Granite Song
moorstone, 1991
set on island in the River Teign, Devon

 
darkatheart
Dark at Heart, marble 1985
“I wanted to make a sculptural equivalent of an emotional state—the dark, knotted centre, the consciousness of being alone.”
fruits of mythic trees
 
Fruits of Mythic Trees, Kilkenny limestone, 1992
 
mother tongue
 

Mother-Tongue, Kilkenny limestone, 1998

 
3 on Dartmoor
 
Still Life, Kilkenny limestone, 1988, on Dartmoor

 

3 stones
 
Three Fruit , Kilkenny limestone, 1986

 

womb tomb
 

Womb Tomb, granite, 2000

 
womb tomb detail

 

Womb tomb, detail

 

Give and Take, granite, 2003

"I Take a stone formed by the blind forces of geology over millions of years, and through articulating its surface,
imbue it with some sort of energy."

 
Secret Life III, granite, 1994
 
 
   
 

Stone Bearing Stone, granite, 1999
"I had the large stone for many years before deciding how to use it. The natural form of the eroded boulder had a sense of internal pressure. I wanted to enhance this quality by implying one form contained within another."

 
 
 
Three Graces, etching on paper, 1994
 
 
drawing2
 
Drawings for Overbecks, pen and ink, 1990

Gallery 2: More Recent Work
click to enlarges



Beneath the Skin
Beside the Still Waters
Bronze Dreaming Stone
Give and Take
Flayed Stone
Maze at Burleigh Gardens
Inner Compulsion
Exotic Cargo
Multiplication by Division
Parting Company
Seed
image credit Ben Foster
Shapes in the Clouds
Theme and Variation II
Image by Steve Russel
Sung Woon
Eginja Eriyimba (singing stone) in Uganda
Rocks in my Bed
Memory of Rain
Terminal Bud

In His Own Words

Excerpts from interviews with Paul Nesbitt and Brian McAvera, and quotations from Sculpture and Drawings 1977-1992:

I grew up in the country and always found the natural world deeply engaging. Later, through my work, I became particularly interested in seeds and fruit. They embody the potential for growth and can be sensual, even erotic. They detach from the parent plant, becoming separate entities full of energy to develop into full-blown plants. I have also always been fascinated by the relationship between outer appearance and internal structure, between surface and volume.

One could speak of different species as each having its own song, tone or note. There's a sense in which they are all akin, each playing its own particular tune. I would like my work to have something of this same quality. For me, when a sculpture is ‘right’, when the form has coherence and the object seems at one with itself, it has an almost audible hum, each part having a harmonious relationship with the whole.

I think we have a much closer connection with other living things, both flora and fauna, than we realize. We are all part of the same biological system and my desire is not only to know this intellectually but to feel it in my bones. The blurring of boundaries between zoology and botany in my work is, in some ways, an expression of this desire to lose a sense of alienation from the rest of the natural world and to experience the reality of its intimacy...

It is obviously a deliberate choice on my part to carve --I have just found for me that carving is an extremely good way of dealing with subtlety, with striking a chord and achieving a kind of resonance through a subtle control of form.

PeterMy work is both a celebration of the natural world and an exploration of its expressive potential - a subjective celebration of the underlying energy behind everything that lives and grows.

I am not interested in illustrating ideas conceived in words; I am interested in working from direct physical experience. The process of carving, rather than stone itself, is important to me. Carving, like drawing and modeling, is conducive to a meditative process where decision, action, and appraisal become fused in a fluid working dialogue. In short, the act of carving itself helps me to access my imagination.

 

Carving and drawing are good ways of tapping into subconscious feelings and images, through an unself-conscious dialogue in the process itself. The process engenders contemplation. It’s physical and repetitive, keeping the body busy and liberating the imagination at a deeper level.

I want my forms to function as a psychological investigation, which hopefully will strike a chord of recognition in the viewer. …It would be pretty remarkable if certain forms didn’t have a resonance since we share an evolutionary history.

Much of my work is derived from botanical and other natural things, but …there is quite a strong strain running through the work which is pure invention.

For example, I have often used a continuous coil which can be folded and knotted in many different and expressive ways.fruits1 Fundamentally, I want these works to have the sense that they might exist in nature, to have kinship with natural form but not to be a representation of anything specifically identifiable. The importance of this, in terms of the response of the viewer, is that when one comes across something never seen before, one has to work at it in a different way. If you can see immediately what it is based on you can file it away and the perception stops there.

I’m trying to make certain forbidden aspects of privacy beautiful, closer to rightness. I’m led by that. Reconciliation is one of the important functions of art.

I’ve always had a tremendous feel for sensuality, for form and touching things and volume. I spent a lot of time on my own, looking closer and closer and closer at a [slate] shingle, for instance, and suddenly seeing the geometry of a shell, like another world poking through. My dad made his living as a model-maker, so the idea of making things was there. I went to the British Museum and the Ethnographic Museum as a child. The Egyptian room in the British Museum, the intensity of the objects, moved me. These people made the same images over thousands of years, a cultural distillation like natural selection. Everything non-vital was stripped away. That hit me like a thump in the chest.

I’ve never been interested in making sculpture which implies frozen movement or ‘a moment in time’. I’d like to make things which are at rest, where the energy is internalised. Perhaps plant forms, particularly fruit and seeds, lend themselves to this sense of implicit life. They may have the feeling that they could burst into life but from the inside rather than in an obviously animated way.

You have to work at the gaps between different images; it’s not quite this and it’s not quite that and hopefully it can evoke a feeling rather than stopping at the identification and naming of the object itself.

My drawing has always run parallel to making sculpture. Sometimes the drawings are preparatory to sculpture, sometimes they stand on their own. I did a set of drawings a few years ago called ‘Fruiting Bodies’ which were of an architectural scale.fruit2 I drew them with charcoal attached to a long pole, and they were very physical to make.
I like drawing from the shoulder rather than wrist. For me the problem with working from the wrist is that the brain locks into the mode of writing, of putting down information in a coded form; that's why I use charcoal such a lot; you tend not to hold it in the same way as a pencil.
Many of the drawings have a lot of black in them; it's a bit like carving, starting with a block and chipping away the bits you don’t want. I approach drawing in a similar way, starting with a white piece of paper and blacking in all that I don’t want to remain.

Particularly on big drawings, it's a process of whittling away at the white.

 

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