Sculpture by the Lake Simon Gudgeon
PUBLISHED: 12:58 23 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:26 20 February 2013
Kate Hall meets sculptor Simon Gudgeon who is<br/><br/>inspired by the cycle of life and our place in the universe
Sculpture by the Lake
Kate Hall meets sculptor Simon Gudgeon who is
inspired by the cycle of life and our place in the universe
The sculptures of Simon Gudgeon are perfectly at home in a Dorset landscape, a landscape that is seemingly made for this multi-talented and successful artist. I met Simon and his wife, Monique, as they prepared their beautiful Pallington Lakes venue, near Dorchester, for the opening of their exhibition Sculpture by the Lakes on 4 June. This opening will be the culmination of six years of planning and creating. In their beautiful countryside park Simons sculptures illuminate the impact of man on our fragile planet. He talks with passion of our interaction with the environment, of the smallness of man in the scheme of the universe and the extraordinary influence we have in shaping and altering it. At the same time he is a realist, he has a clear business focus, something that he feels young artists need to embrace if they are to survive in the challenging world of art today.
Simon came to his art relatively late, having started a conventional career as a solicitor, but living with a burning desire to express himself as an artist. His subsequent work as a garden designer, a country upbringing and his passion for field sports have all shaped his art. At a particularly low point in his legal career, a gift of artists paints from his mother formed the catalyst for his transition to wildlife artist and sculptor. Simon firmly believes in serendipity and describes his work as a wonderful way of spending your life. With sculptures in major exhibitions throughout the world, one in Hyde Park and the patronage of royalty, a strong presence in the prestigious Halcyon Gallery in London where he shares the stage with the likes of Monet, Pissarro and Bob Dylan, you might expect this man to be living the good life and relaxing on his laurels. Not Simon. He says he is working harder now than he has ever done and is always looking for new challenges. His current project at Pallington Lakes consumes all his energies; he relishes every moment, talking of filling his remaining 7,000 days calculated as the days that are potentially left for him based on the average lifespan!
The sculptures at Pallington Lakes are about the paradox of equilibrium and simultaneously the unpredictability of life. Simon aims to promote contemplation and reflection by appreciating the sculptures as they interact with the landscape. He says that placing such pieces in a museum or gallery, in his opinion, takes away their power as they are out of context. Placing sculpture outdoors, where large pieces were intended to be, restores that power, which is why we will relate to them. Art is about creating a beautiful place partly in the subconscious, he tells me. I want people to come and to think, to imagine, to enjoy and to connect with my work and with nature.
The planting and management of the landscape are aimed at promoting an interaction of man with nature. His sculptures sit in harmony with the environment and seem to have been born from it. His relationship with his wife, Monique, is a partnership of hearts and minds in the pursuit of beauty and balance. Monique helped to create the vision of the natural landscape which forms the staging for Simons installations. They draw inspiration for this natural canvas from their travels to Africa, Asia and Australasia.
Simons evident love and knowledge of wildlife is captured in pieces such as Roe Deer, a life-size bronze tentatively approaching the river for a drink. You can almost see the feathers flying in Duel where a pair of duelling pheasants fight for territory, which Simon says is also a metaphor for the struggle to hold onto that which is ours. Equally impressive is the bronze of a leaping salmon exploding out of the lake. Also situated in the lake is a wonderfully fluid sculpture, The Chase, where an otter hunts down its fishy prey. It is a reminder of the raw power of nature which goes on beyond the confines of our concrete world, adds Simon.
Alongside these are the more abstract sculptures such as Bird of Happiness inspired by the shape of the strelitzia, a South African flower also known as the crane flower. Simon drew on how cranes have been perceived in both art and mythology when creating the piece. The crane has been consistently adopted over the millennia as a symbol of good, to signify liberation from earthly constraints, as symbols of the unshakable unity of two people, and everlasting happiness.
Another head-turning piece is Search for Enlightenment, two bronze heads looking skywards, a piece inspired during a trip to Africa, as Simon recalls: I stood on a 240-million-year-old mountain and watched the 4.6-billion-year-old sun descend below the horizon. As the light diminished the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way began to glow in the night sky. The universe is over 10 billion years old and consists of hundreds of billions of galaxies. It is at that moment I began to grasp the narrowness of consciousness, the vastness of time and the transience of humanity.
Simon admits to being influenced by the likes of Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore and one can see this in his abstract forms. As an artist I am fascinated by the Golden Ratios and Fibonacci sequences. Circles and spirals appear in much of my work, reflecting their occurrence in the natural world. He lives the process of creation from conception in his subconscious to implementation and to understanding the process from a technical perspective. He loves to experiment with colours and patination and his sculptures have movement, which is reflected in the clever planting that Monique has created. What were empty areas are now teeming with life, with restored and revitalised habitats supporting a myriad animals and plants. The cycle of life is reflected in the circle of art.
Where next for Simon Gudgeon? At the moment he is experimenting with pure kinetic sculpture. Sculpture has to flow, it is not a rigid lump, he says, becoming positively animated when he describes his new skill. Welding is fantastic! His workshop is filled with silent motion as his new pieces begin to take shape, movement and life. Outdoors the sculpture becomes an ever-changing event, he says. The sculptures evolve and shift with the light, the weather, the seasons and the environment in which they are placed. These are then superbly captured by Simon the photographer, another of his many artistic talents.
The collection of sculptures at Pallington Lakes shows the evolution of Simons artistic journey from realist to more abstract representations of life.
His desire is that we should share in this wonderful experience as well as enjoying his magnificent creations.
Sculpture by the Lake runs from
4-19 June, 11am-6pm daily.
Entry fee is 5 and will go to Help for Heroes. You are welcome to bring a picnic. The rest of the year you can visit by appointment and entry is 10. For further information visit: sculpturebythelakes.co.uk
Getting there: Pallington Lakes, Pallington, Dorchester, DT2 8QU
To see more of Simons work visit: simongudgeon.com