Working with wood to create sculptures is an ancient practice. Complete examples of English wood sculptures from the 16th and 17th centuries still survive. Artists today create works from wood, as well, and call upon the rich art history surrounding this tradition. Many of these artists have become well known and highly sought after.
Contemporary artist Andrew Frost creates works from abandoned tree trunks, using a chainsaw to carve out mystical figures deeply entrenched in English folklore, including the Green Man. His work can be seen at Fulham Palace in London, as well at the Crich Tramway Museum in Derbyshire.
Grinling Gibbons, who worked in the late 17th century, was perhaps the most famous English wood sculptor and was known as the king's sculptor. He was often employed to create architectural carvings, including those in the dining room of Windsor Castle and the library at Trinity College in Cambridge. He liked to include a carving of a pea pod in his sculptures, and focused mainly on religious subject matter.
Much of Gibbons' work can still be seen in churches throughout England including St. Paul's Cathedral in London, where he is buried.
Known for combining natural, representational and symbolic materials in his sculptures, Advent Hunstone, or "Old Advent," was the most well known of a family of wood carvers. Working in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Advent's most famous sculptures are perhaps the organ case and screen he created for his church, St. John the Baptist, in Tideswell.
Bill Prickett, considered one of England's most talented contemporary wood carvers, displays extensive woodworking skills, bringing to life sculptures of birds and animals. He often works in lime wood, using it for its interesting grain and ability to take detail. His work is delicate and intricate.
Prickett's sculptures have won prizes, and have been in exhibits including the Pensthorpe National Wildlife Carving and Sculpture Exhibition. He's even sold work through Christie's fine art auction house.
Ian G. Brennan
Ian G. Brennan is another important contemporary wood sculptor from England. He creates realistic sculptures and has been commissioned to do work for Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral. His works have been added to private collections around the world.
Henry Moore was an important sculptor in the 20th century who was known for his large-scale abstract sculptures. Moore's sculptures played with surrealism and modern art. He was a key figure in introducing modernism to the United Kingdom. His sculptures often reflected female bodies, and contained hollow spaces. He typically worked in wood, marble and bronze.
Moore became a highly sought after artist and completed numerous commissions, acquiring significant wealth. Concerned about his legacy later in life, he created the Henry Moore Foundation, which promotes public appreciation of the arts and runs his former home as a museum of his work. Moore died in 1986.
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