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image for Art Exhibition item typeMark Goldsworthy - Sculpture & Paintings

Art Exhibition, Sat 15 Jul - Sun 13 Aug 2017, free entry

Mark Goldworthy

Mark Goldworthy


Introduction by Louis de Berniere, Author.

Mark Goldsworthy is an artist who boldly establishes a presence in one’s life without any kind of fanfare. Anyone who drives past the village of Homersfield in North Suffolk will see a slightly worried looking man with a paddle in his hands, in a small boat, perched on the top of a tree trunk. It is so much a part of the landscape that it seems that it might have been there since time immemorial, to such an extent that some local people are surprised to see it when it is pointed out to them. Homersfield is on the River Waveney, so a small worried man in a boat is entirely appropriate. I have always felt that what worries him is being on the top of a tree trunk with the wrong equipment, rather than where he belongs, in the river.

I first became aware of Goldsworthy’s work because there was one such large carving in a garden in my village, on a lane normally travelled by only one or two people per diem. It became my habitual route home just because I liked the sculpture, and I was dismayed one day to find that it had been moved on.

Goldsworthy is an artisan artist with a powerful physical presence, whose work requires real craft and muscular strength. He makes beautifully proportioned gypsy caravans which are both practical, and beautifully carved. He will install carved barge boards on the gables of your house, or supply you with green men for the bosses of your beams, or mouldings made of resin for your ceiling, or a corbel table for your parapet. It might appear that he has three or four simultaneous careers, but I very much doubt if he sees it that way. Forks have three or four tines, and chairs have three or four legs, after all.

He says that his artistic work always begins with a feeling, and he then has to settle upon how that feeling is developed and expressed. For this he has a choice of painting, or carving in wood, alabaster and stone, or casting in bronze. In his workshop he has the maquettes for his sculptures, and I find them as interesting and enjoyable as the finished product, because you can see how concepts transform themselves during the creative process.

Goldsworthy’s paintings are full of life; not just with a human life, but also with that of animals and trees. They are the work of a countryman. He says that each of his eyes sees colours differently, so that the colours he settles upon are consequent upon which one is closed at the time of looking. However, his colours are certainly beyond realism; for example he might have patches of green or purple on the feathers of a white duck, but this would be how he conveys a sense of depth and shadow. Like most good artists he sees the colour behind the colour; where I would see green, he can see the brown or the lilac or the scarlet hidden within the green. Sometimes his lines are precise, and sometimes they are blurred and wavy, so that, in the former case, one is looking through a window at the world, and otherwise one is looking at a dream of it.

Characteristically (but certainly not always) he slightly distorts the familiar shapes of things so that we are challenged by seeing them in a new way. The paintings in this exhibition, with their strong swathes of unexpected colours, are inspired by the concept of the burlesque. They made me think of Degas’ paintings of dancers behind the scenes. The burlesque is all about entertaining people by means of irony, with an exaggeration that is comical on the surface but points to something tragic and sad when thought about at greater depth. There is an angularity to these figures which to me implies hunger or sickness, or the longing for something better and less superficial in this life, beyond projecting a persona or putting on a show, but this is always accomplished without sacrificing the natural exuberance of the subject.

His carvings are almost never angular, and Goldsworthy certainly doesn’t aspire to being a Giacometti. Although there is the practical business of finding the stone that fits the shape, or the shape that fits the stone, they are, I think, mainly the consequence of Goldsworthy’s joy in the natural pleasures of the hand as it runs on a curved surface. You get the same pleasure from running your hands over these sculptures as you do from stroking a horse, or the statues in Vigland’s Park in Oslo; but Goldsworthy’s figures are more curved and foreshortened, softened and rounded, than those of Vigland. They might remind you of the fertility figures of neolithic times, or of Celtic carvings, or the contemporary work of Emily Young, whose work I once characterised as being all about strength and gentleness. They have a mythic quality which implies a narrative that Goldsworthy has presumably already imagined, but which onlookers have to work out for themselves. Often they are in unusual postures, and frequently they have their eyes closed, as if it contemplation or ecstasy, or melancholy. Those whose eyes are open display the inscrutable expressions of those who can see something that we cannot. These figures are not about beauty or physical perfection, but are about the presentation of character, the privileging of presence over detail, the catching of mood rather than resemblance.

This exhibition is the result of three years’ work by an artist who is, happily, also a masterly craftsman. Goldsworthy is no pretentious naked emperor in pursuit of novelty. He is not clowning about, or jumping up and down crying ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ Goldsworthy invites us not to look at him, but at the world as he reshapes it, making a kind of poetry out of solid substance, and creating as many characters as a novelist.

Event details

Dates Times
Sat 15 Jul - Sun 13 Aug 2017 10:00 to 17:00
Opening times for the exhibition Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm or by appointment


Free entry

Events at this Venue

date event
Sat 15 Jul - Sun 13 Aug Mark Goldsworthy - Sculpture & Paintings


Chappel Galleries


Colchester Road,



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