Summer exhibition opens at Moncrieff-Bray Gallery near Petworth

Helen Denerley, Hen and Chicks, scrap metal H 40cm MONCRIEFF-BRAY GALLERY
Helen Denerley, Hen and Chicks, scrap metal H 40cm MONCRIEFF-BRAY GALLERY

Jilly Sutton and Helen Denerley join forces for an exhibition of sculpture and drawing at The Moncrieff-Bray Gallery near Petworth from April 27- May 27.

Curator Elspeth Moncrieff explains: “This exhibition looks at the work of two artists and the relationship between drawing and sculpture.

“It showcases Jilly Sutton’s wood carvings but also her relief prints and paintings on wood. These are sculptural shapes in two dimensions which use the surface and texture of the wood.

“Helen Denerley’s sculptures are shown together with her stunning charcoal drawings, many of them life size, illustrating how her drawings and sculpture are integral to each other. Drawn from opposite ends of the country, it is the first time their work has been shown together.”

The exhibition will also include a collection of new paintings, sculptures and collages by Walter Bailey, Sarah Bowman, Oona Campbell, Marzia Colonna, Philip Lyons, Miranda Michels, Maggie O’Brien, Jemma Powell, Lucy Powell, Alexa Rolls, Sarah Walton, Sarah Warley-Cummings, Vivienne Williams.

Elspeth added: “Jilly Sutton is renowned for her remarkable skills as a carver. Starting with an often massive piece of fallen timber she works directly into the wood unlocking the form within but always paying heed to the properties of the material.”

Jilly explains: “As a sculptor, you have to think in 3d all the time, especially with the subtraction way of working, rather than with building up as in modelling. There is only one decision with carving which is to take away or not to take away … I start off with drawings from all angles, but as the shape develops, I abandon the drawings and rely on the work to evolve, to take its form from the wood.”

Jilly’s 2d relief forms made to hang on the wall are an extension of this process. She has developed inventive techniques of jig-saw printing and relief painting on wood. Texture is a key element in all of her work, exploiting the grain of the wood.

Jilly draws daily – fluid, linear sketches. Drawing is a necessary part of her process of creating a sculpture, she says. It may be just the ‘scribble of an idea’ or a ‘thinking aloud concept’ or it can develop into a proper scale drawing that fits a piece of wood.

Elspeth added: “Many artists have used recycled materials but none like Helen Denerley and her work has an international following. There is something about her creatures that hold our attention.

“We are drawn first to the head. She begins her pieces with the head, hanging it from a beam so that she can get it at the right height. The heels come next and she gradually fills in the remaining form, somehow describing living muscles, sinew and movement from the inanimate metal.

“Her sculptures are linear, welded scrap metal coached into graceful curves and sinuous shapes which suggest as much by what they leave out as what they describe. Drawing is key to her process.

“Helen sees observation and drawing as fundamental to any artist and her work explores the same language and ideas whether it is in two or three dimensions.

“She studied at Gray’s Academy in Aberdeen, which still teaches the importance of traditional drawing skills.”

The summer exhibition opening hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 11am to 4pm, Sunday, 11am to 1.30pm.

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