The Sculpture ‘Marmite’ Question:
What do you love?
What do you hate?
Steven Claydon replies:
‘As a child, I often traipsed along Exhibition Road with my twin brother under the redoubtable stewardship of my energetic grandmother. After visiting the museums, we would make our way up to the Serpentine in Kensington Gardens. En route, we would pass Charles Sargeant Jagger’s statue of Ernest Shackleton. I, like others who have contributed to ‘Sculpture of the Month’, love the work of Jagger, but this piece, in particular, resonates with me. Housed in an alcove on the façade of the Royal Geographical Society, I was always impressed by its forthright bearing, lack of pomp and the way the outlandish polar clothing is so plastically and expertly handled. It’s a masterpiece of confident understatement that somehow heralds art as exploration. This unique sculpture endures and abides.
Conversely, a little further on in the park lies the sulphurous statue, Physical Energy, an ugly, fascistic relic that commemorates the colonial imperialist, Cecil Rhodes. Not only do I loathe the way this statue is rendered, I loathe what it stands for and I avoid it like the bloody plague. My antipathy towards this eyesore was cemented one winter’s afternoon, while travelling home from the Chelsea School of Art, when I was stopped by the Park’s police and accused of cycling on a footpath. Later as I stood in the dock, bewildered by the authoritarian pettiness of the proceedings, the arresting officer read from his note book: “The defendant was apprehended at seventeen hundred hours by the statue of Physical Energy…” The die was cast and I expect that the symptomatic taboo I obey will exist as long that heinous bronze lurks amongst the boughs and footpaths of Kensington Gardens.’
Steven Claydon has been shortlisted for the Hepworth Prize for Sculpture, the accompanying exhibition runs 21 October 2016 – 19 February 2017. The £30,000 new biennial award, The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture, is the UK’s first major prize for sculpture and will recognise a British or UK-based artist of any age, at any stage in their career, who has made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture. The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture is an integral part of The Hepworth Wakefield’s 5th anniversary celebrations and named in honour of Barbara Hepworth.