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A leading British contemporary sculptor, Simon Gudgeon is known for his often very large-scale minimalist, semi-abstract forms, created in his signature smooth style. Using a stripped-back aesthetic, Gudgeon takes nature as a major influence, working directly from his encounters with, and observations of, live subjects and the natural world. He is perhaps best known for his monumental sculptures Isis and Search for Enlightenment (both placed in London’s Hyde Park), as well as his sculptures of birds in flight which appear to defy gravity.
Gudgeon captures specific moments through the crafting of clean lines that suggest rather then depict a form, a movement or a feeling, provoking a strong connection between the viewer and the object. He sculpts primarily in bronze, and occasionally in marble, granite, glass or stainless steel. Terracotta clay, oil-based Chavant clay, epoxy resin or foam, are used for the initial modelling, depending on the nature and scale of the subject and the intended result.
Born in Yorkshire in 1958, Gudgeon ‘lived deep in the countryside on the family farm, learning the essential arts of observation, evaluation and interpretation of how animals and birds behave, both with each other and man’. After studying law at Reading University, he qualified as a solicitor, starting painting only in his thirties and first exhibiting at London’s Battersea Exhibition Centre in 1992. An impulse purchase of artist’s clay at the age of 40 led into his career as a sculptor, in which he was able to respond to that which lay closest to his heart: the natural world. Since then Gudgeon has attained worldwide recognition, showing works in London, New York, Chicago, San Diego, Paris and the Netherlands, and providing works for high profile collections.
Recently, trips to Africa, Asia and Australasia have enabled Gudgeon to broaden his subject matter and experiment with a variety of styles and methods. Gudgeon is relentlessly innovative in the studio, aiming to ‘move away from the purely representational towards something that has a deeper subtext’.
He continues to create and develop new ideas while his work is displayed permanently at Sculpture by the Lakes, Dorset; Gladwell & Patterson, London; at the Altamira Gallery, Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Creighton Block Gallery, Big Sky, Montana and several provincial galleries in the UK including The Jerram Gallery, Dorset, Bils & Rye, Yorkshire and The Wykeham Gallery, Hampshire.
SCULPTURE BY THE LAKES
In 2007, alongside his wife Monique, Gudgeon created Sculpture by the Lakes at Pallington Lakes, Dorset, which has been described as one of the most beautiful and unique sculpture parks in the UK. Designed to provide a tranquil backdrop for his monumental sculptures, as well as housing his workshop and gallery space, the sculpture park is open to the public and provides a unique environment within which clients can consider the works in situ. The 26 acre park also offers carefully planning planting, and plentiful wildlife, making it as much a destination for garden and nature lovers, as it is for art enthusiasts.
In 2009, Isis was installed in Hyde Park, London, the first such installation there for over 50 years. The Isis project raised more than £1.4million for The Royal Parks Foundation to fund a new, environmentally friendly children’s education centre – The Look Out – in the heart of the park.
In 2011, Search for Enlightenment was placed on the banks of The Thames, at Riverside Walk Garden, London, adjacent to Locking Piece by Henry Moore, and Tate Britain, and was exhibited as part of Westminster City of Sculpture Festival, 2010-2012.
In the USA in 2012 Isis was placed in The Sculpture Trail at The National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson Hole, Wyoming – it is the only sculpture on the trail by a British sculptor. In 2015 Search for Enlightenment was chosen to be the iconic sculpture outside the headquarters of the world-famous Cirque du Soleil in Montreal, Canada.
Gudgeon’s works are featured in important private collections in the UK and overseas including those of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Duke of Bedford and The Duke of Northumberland.
HRH The Prince of Wales was presented with an Isis sculpture in 2011, which is proudly displayed in the family’s Japanese gardens at Highgrove House, their private residence in Gloucestershire.
In addition, Gudgeon’s works are included in the permanent collections of several prominent art museums in the USA, including America’s National Museum of Wildlife Art and the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin.
During 2016, Gudgeon showed as part of Gladwell & Patterson’s exhibit at Masterpiece, London as well as overseas shows with the gallery at SOFA Chicago (the foremost fair for Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art & Design), The Hamptons Art Fair, Long Island, New York, and Birds in Art at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wisconsin as well as the Western Visions Exhibition at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Wyoming.
CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW
Gudgeon has recently become a regular exhibitor at the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show where his sculpture garden stand has received Five Star Tradestand Awards from the Royal Horticultural Society for both 2015 and 2016. In the first year, the stand was the only trade stand to win Five Star recognition as a first time exhibitor. On both occasions, the stand featured new and iconic works by Gudgeon integrated into a planting scheme designed by his wife Monique.
Most sculptures don’t start out as a conscious thought, with all the aspects of form and meaning carefully considered. What happens is that an idea enters my head – be it a shape, a movement or an emotion – and I simply want to convey it. I must convey it! Ideas come from a combination of observations, thoughts, beliefs and the profound experiences of one’s lifeBuy Paintings by Simon Gudgeon