London’s Royal Academy is showing a major new exhibition on Modern British Sculpture. It is a great opportunity to see major works by the likes of Epstein, Moore, Hepworth, Caro and Hirst all under one roof.
London is full of wonderful sculpture if you know where to look! There are the obvious things like Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square and the changing contemporary works on the Fourth Plinth there. At the moment you can enjoy Yinka Shonibare’s witty and clever ship in a bottle based on Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory.
Eros by Alfred Gilbert in Piccadilly Circus is famous from countless postcards and movies, but it is not what it seems! Instead of being a statue of the god of intimate love it is really a depiction of Anteros, the god of charitable love and is a memorial to the 19th century philanthropist Lord Shaftesbury. More impressive is Gilbert’s wonderful art nouveau memorial to Queen Alexandra missed by most visitors.
My favourite sculptures are often the ones you suddenly come across when turning a corner - Barry Flanagan’s amusing boxing hares, Rodin’s Burghers of Calais, the surrealist work of Igor Mitoraj or stumbling across Churchill and Roosevelt sitting on a park bench.
Some sculptures commemorate an event such as the moving Kindertransport sculpture, depicting the young Jewish children arriving in London to escape the Nazis. The image of a young girl clutching her suitcase and teddy bear is far more eloquent and memorable than any dry statistic.
Then there are the monumental abstract works by Moore and Serra which seem more powerful outside in a landscape than entrapped by the confines of a gallery.
The more you look, the more you will find of London’s great collection of sculpture!