The Launch of Putney Sculpture Trail
Institution: West Dean
Author: Jon Edgar
The sculpture of Alan Thornhill now forms a mile-long trail; a unique opportunity to see a significant body of work by one artist in permanent, accessible public view in London. The nine works stretch between Leaders Gardens, to the west of Putney Bridge, through Wandsworth Park to the Riverside Quarter to the East.
Thornhill is a veteran British sculptor with work in public collections in both the UK and USA. He devised a unique way of working with clay that embraced spontaneity and the unforeseen. This approach has inspired two generations of students and produced a body of challenging work drawn, in part unconsciously, from personal and shared concerns of the late 20th century.
Thornhill’s teaching at Morley College and the Frink School of Figurative Sculpture, where he was a founder trustee, influenced many developing sculptors. Some incorporated his exploratory approach, which is concerned with mass rather than concepts, into their own practice and they are now in turn passing this on to a further generation of artists.
A new 40 minute documentary - Spirit in Mass - Journey into Sculpture explores the life, work and ideas of Thornhill and is a moving tribute to a man whose work challenges many current notions about creativity and perception.
The artist’s visual archive of works is available at www.alanthornhill.co.uk.
Quotes:Thornhill admits that his work is unashamedly at variance with fashionable trends in the contemporary art scene. Certainly he has little interest in its vagaries and has neither courted nor received much acknowledgement from the art establishment. And this is a shame, for it is work of beauty, vitality, authenticity and resonance for both the viewer and for fellow artists. These very qualities mean that it is art that is ageless and attests to the dilemmas, conflicts and yet exquisite moments of aliveness and wonder that constitute a life truly lived.
Traces of an Artist’s Journey
Clare Carswell MA (RCA) Artist/curator; Essay 2008
Thoughts on the Aesthetic Experience and On Creativity
Alan Thornhill 2008