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Faces of Sculpture: Portrait of a Profession, An Exhibition of Photographs by Anne Purkiss 14 May – 14 July 2018

Faces of Sculpture: Portrait of a Profession, An Exhibition of Photographs by Anne Purkiss 14 May – 14 July 2018

“I see photographs as documents of people, recorded in the context of their environment and their time. The interpretation of my subjects, or my part of being creative, lies in selecting the context, the environment and the moment in time.”

Faces of Sculpture is an exhibition of photographer Anne Purkiss’ portraits of leading British sculptors in their studios taken over the past 30 years.

Faces of Sculpture Damien Hirst, 2006 ©A. Purkiss
Damien Hirst, 2006 ©A. Purkiss

Dame Elisabeth Frink, Sir Anthony Caro, Damian Hirst, Grayson Perry, Sir Antony Gormley, Cornelia Parker, Rachel Whiteread, Maggi Hambling, Phyllida Barlow, Martin Creed, Gavin Turk, Yinka Shonibare and many more have all been the subject of Anne’s incisive lens at different stages of their careers, some of them she has photographed on several occasions.

Faces of Sculpture Cornelia Parker, 2013 ©A. Purkiss
Cornelia Parker, 2013 ©A. Purkiss

As a photo-journalist Anne arrived in the UK from former East Germany in 1984. Two years later she got her first commission to photograph a sculptor in his studio. The job came from the Associated Press and the pictures were to be a celebration of the 90th birthday of Arthur Fleischmann. This was the start of a three-decade project that has seen her taking portraits of more than one hundred sculptors who inspire her through their work and ideas.

Dame Elisabeth Frink, who was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Sculptors, is captured in her Dorset studio in 1990 – just prior to her 60th birthday – sat alongside the sculpture Seated Figure II. The exhibition – which coincides with the 25th anniversary of her death – will also feature her monumental sculpture In Memoriam III (1983). The work is on loan from the Ingram Collection of Modern British Art and will be displayed on the Sculpture Terrace outside the venue.

Faces of Sculpture Maggi Hambling 2014, ©A. Purkiss
Maggi Hambling 2014, ©A. Purkiss

Sir Tony Cragg is seen in his studio in Wuppertal, Germany, preparing for his 2017 Yorkshire Sculpture Park exhibition. Martin Creed is outside the entrance to the Barbican in London’s Silk Street (near his office). David Nash is seen chain sawing a large wooden sculpture, with the scenic backdrop of the rugged Blaenau Ffestiniog landscape. Lynn Chadwick is in the grounds of his home in Lypiatt Park, Gloucestershire…..

faces of Sculpture Tony Cragg ®Anne Purkiss
Tony Cragg ®Anne Purkiss

In addition, the work of four contemporary sculptors – Rana Begum, Simon Hitchens FRBS, Michael Lyons FRBS and Cathie Pilkington RA – will accompany photographs of the artists in the exhibition space at The Royal Society of Sculptors in Old Brompton Road, London.

Anne says “It’s an exciting time to photograph sculptors and their work as in recent years the nature of an entire profession has changed. It is fascinating to see how much our understanding of this artform has been transformed within a few decades. Sculpture is no longer just a piece of artwork on a plinth, it includes installations, site specific or performance art. Sculptors use increasingly unconventional materials. And there are many more women working in sculpture now and producing inspiring work. As a photographer, the subject has huge creative potential for me, it appeals to my interest in documenting people and change.”

faces of sculpture Yinka Shonibare ®Anne Purkiss
Yinka Shonibare ®Anne Purkiss

Caroline Worthington, Director of the Royal Society of Sculptors says “We are thrilled to have this chance to display Anne’s three decade exploration of what it is to be a sculptor. We are especially pleased to have an opportunity to display some of the sculpture created by a number of those artists featured in her insightful photographs, alongside their portraits. Sculpture is an ever evolving art form and we think visitors will find it fascinating to see this development captured through images of some of its leading practitioners taken over the last 30 years. It is especially fitting we are holding this exhibition in our South Kensington ‘home’ of Dora House, as it was once a photography studio for Elliott and Fry.”

The exhibition, which forms part of RA250 celebrations, coincides with the release of Purkiss’ new book SCULPTORS 1986 – 2016, featuring among others members of the Society and Royal Academicians

For more information follow @Royal_Sculptors on Twitter and visit

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