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  • Steve Hubbard

George Kennethson

I just received the catalogue from a recent exhibition at The Redfern Gallery called ‘The Sculpture of George Kennethson: 1910 - 1994’.


Very sad (er, ‘gutted’) to have missed the exhibition (too preoccupied with getting to grips with being self employed), but the catalogue is excellent. I’ve been a great enthusiast for the work of Kennethson since I bought the book ‘George Kennethson: A Modernist Rediscovered’ four years ago. I bought that entirely on spec, and although his style is different from mine - not least because of his figurative work, his approach has many echoes, so I clicked with him immediately.

In the new catalogue essay, by Richard Cork, I learnt some new things about Kennethson that echoed with my own practice:

Kennethson took his inspiration from the landscapes and seascapes of Purbeck. Although he lived in Northamptonshire, he holidayed every year in Purbeck. I used to live in Purbeck, and have photographed, drawn and painted it on many occasions, and its forms are arguably one of the fundamental underpinnings of my sculptural work.

He carved and finished all his sculptures himself, rather than contracting it out, or getting assistants to do it. I also strongly believe that the aspects of art and craft are deeply intertwined, and that for a sculpture to be an expression of my ‘art’ I have to craft it myself. While I appreciate the work of sculptors such as Anish Kapoor, I think that he’s become more of an industrial designer of forms - with a team of craftspeople in a factory executing his designs.

He took inspiration from the works of an earlier generation of sculptors, including Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jacob Epstein and Eric Gill, and these, along with Brancusi and Hepworth, were the primary inspirations which drove my early sculpture, and ultimately lead me to discover Kennethson.

I also greatly admire that compactness and physicality of his sculptures. They retain the ‘density’ and substance of the stone. The final form is both ‘of the stone’ and ‘of Kennethson’.

Here’s an example of one of Kennethson’s more well known works ‘Construction (Birds)’ at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, and there are a number of others on my ‘Stone Sculpture’ Pinterest page - now where did I put that I put that big block of Alabaster‽

Kennethson Birds.jpg
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