Peter Randall-Page in Wigan

We popped in yesterday to he Drumcroon Gallery in Wigan to look at the exhibition ‘Showing his Hand’ of smaller works by Peter Randall-Page, a well established British sculptor who has produced some significant works.  A number are on public display in various cities across the UK, including London, Edinburgh, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge and abroad. He created a major granite sculpture, “Seed”, for the Eden Centre in Cornwall.

I first discovered his work when I visited his major exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park a couple of years ago. We also came across one of his sculptures, ‘Give and Take’, when we visited Newcastle.

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‘Give and Take’

According to his website he has

“….. always been informed and inspired by the study of organic form and its subjective impact on our emotions.”

and many of his works certainly are influenced by nature, particularly plants and seeds. This was reflected in the works on display at the Drumcroon.

My favourite was the two “Mind Map” pieces. These are made up of  fragments of fired brick clay . The individual pieces are split in two and after they are fired are used to create symmetrical abstract patterns on the wall  by locating the paired slabs on either side of the central axis. The firing of the clay produces interesting variations in the colours of the slabs .

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I’d seen some of his “Mind Map” pieces at the YSP exhibition and the accompanying booklet explained how he had developed the idea by studyingEgg drawings by the Greek mathematician Euclid (c.300BC) whose “Elements” is the earliest known treatise dedicated to geometry. Euclid set out a system for creating compass and straight edge constructions, including egg shapes made up of intersecting lines and circles. Euclid’sinfluence can be clearly seen in these “Mind Maps”  and also in some of the drawings in the exhibition

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These symmetrical egg drawings had been produced by applying the paint or ink and folding over the paper to create something similar to a Rorschach inkblot. He used this approach for a good number of the paper based works on show in the exhibition.

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There were a number of small sculptures on display. I liked the small metal castings displayed on the mantlepiece in one of the rooms. They were minature versions of a larger sculpture we’d seen at the YSP and were possiblly maquettes – small scale models used by sculptors when trying out their ideas – which would be scaled up later.

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I wasn’t so keen on the clay pieces on display. They had an unfinished appearance.

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There were a number of maquettes, including one for “Seed”, in a glass case,

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and a selection of his sketch books were also displayed.

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I found these particularly interesting as they give an insight into the creative process and the way the artist’s ideas are conceived and developed.

I thought that this was a good exhibition, well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in contemporary sculpture. Wigan are lucky to have the opportunity to show the works.  However, it has been very poorly publicised and I wonder how many people know that it’s there? As I’ve noted before, Wigan Councilare very poor at promoting the Arts. The Drumcroon is the only arts facility in Wigan, but is mainly used as a resource for schools. Sadly, the centre is under threat due to Council cutbacks. If it goes Wigan will be even more of a cultural wasteland than it is at the moment. We can only cast our eyes with envy towards enlightened towns like Wakefield (another solid working class community with a passion for rugby league) where the new Hepworth gallery, a major new facility devoted to sculpture, opened earlier this year.

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