Meet Kent sculptor Anthony Heywood
PUBLISHED: 11:41 10 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:42 10 January 2014
The head of sculpture at Canterbury’s University for the Creative Arts on his ecologically aware work
As painting rather dominates the art world, it is with some concern that I ask to interview Anthony Heywood, head of sculpture at Canterbury’s University for the Creative Arts.
We are in Anthony’s studio at Staple, near Wingham, a large barn where he has worked for 20 years in a range of materials.
“These can literally eat up space and are very demanding on resources,” he says.
“I may need to work in hot metals or I could be developing a series of ceramics. Each needs specialist equipment so the studio looks mostly like a workshop, although I do have dry areas for making drawings for the preparation of ideas.”
He adds: “I hang pictures of works in progress around my space to help me think about the issues I’m currently dealing with.”
The barn studio has provided a good home for Antony’s ideas and he is clearly inspired by what is going on around him. His particular interested in ecology and consumption, for example, is expressed in works such as The Elephant, an installation made up of used monitors and TVs.
Based on Anthony’s response to an item on TV about elephant poaching, he decided to put both elements into the work, which was on show in London at Liverpool Street Station and in Worthing in 2011.
The Elephant attracted worldwide attention, really tapping into people’s horror at the idea of animals being killed for ivory. It even earned Anthony a spot on Blue Peter to talk about this work.
“The piece that has stimulated most audience reaction is The Elephant; people feel strongly about the subject. My way of dealing with it was to make a sculpture.”
By using found items, such as monitors and old TVs, Anthony is continuing in a tradition started by Duchamp in the early 1920s with his Fountain, made famous by the signature of R Mutt emblazoned on it.
As the world becomes increasingly aware of pollution, global warming and changes in the environment, sculpture has adapted and artists are drawing attention to over-consumption and waste in our world.
Anthony adds: “The discourse that has emerged strongly throughout my work is one that embraces a socio-political genre and asks questions about our environment and sustainability issues.
“I have taken the opportunity to place my work in the public domain and to look, listen and discuss how it functions for different audiences and communities.
“This has involved me in a more open discussion through a gathered audience, for example TV, radio and newspaper coverage, and now my online presence.”
Anthony tells me about a big project, shown in Martim Moniz Square in Lisbon, which featured boots that were five metres long and three metres high. “I took the theme of shoes as the universal or at least one of the most ubiquitous of items that everyone has in their possession.
“This developed a strong narrative as the shoes were collected from local people and each shoe represents an individual member of his or her own community.”
The aim of the project was to draw attention to how visitors could see a city by walking around it and in doing so, behave in a more environmentally friendly way.
The project was also important for getting the local community involved. Disappointingly, a group of local vandals took exception to the work and destroyed it one night, leaving Anthony with a sense of real untapped potential for such an ambitious and inspiring piece.
In art, there are many subtle differences that tweak an overall theme or genre of the finished outcome.
I ask Anthony whether he considers his work is sculpture or installation. “I came from a Modernist teaching, from people who believed in making objects,” he says.
“I focus on making things, although some of the ideas involve asking questions of different communities. I am ecologically conscious, concerned with the atmosphere, water, things in the news. As a student I tested ideas from the landscape and made work which was ambitious in scale.”
Here of course lies the crux in sculpture; it is a question of scale. “Sculpture needs a big space and involves a greater cost than painting,” Anthony agrees.
“Sculpture demands a third dimension, the audience walking all around the piece, and it is quite often large.
“It may even necessitate the use of cranes to put the piece in the appropriate space, as well as a truck with a crane to transport. I am very excited by sculpture, by what you can do with materials, a site and a particular subject.”
In his studio I spot a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, as well as the Parthenon. Anthony says the idea behind these is to draw attention to how iconic buildings such as these examples are being eaten away by the atmosphere.
They are made of builder’s items and a possible site awaits for both projects in Lincolnshire when they are complete.
More locally, Anthony is awaiting news on a bigger venture here in Kent. Just over the county border you can see his Four Horses, which are permanently on show at the Sculpture Park at Churt, near Haslemere in Surrey.
Most excitingly, Anthony is hoping to create a museum for his works, which will be well worth a visit and put Kent even further onto the artistic map. n
GET IN TOUCH
You can contact Anthony Heywood at work at UCA, 01227 817302, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website: www.anthonyfheywoodsculpture.weebly.com