Joanna Mowbray: New Steel Sculpture and Drawings

Beyond and Within, 1995. Photo Jonty Wilde Image 1 of 2
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Inside Out, 1995. Photo Jonty Wilde Image 2 of 2
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04.11.95 - 06.01.96
Pavilion Gallery and open air
Born in 1955, Joanna Mowbray lives and works in Huddersfield and is recognised as one of the region’s leading artists. In 1991, Yorkshire Sculpture Park awarded Mowbray a Henry Moore Foundation bursary, providing the opportunity to experiment and to reconsider her sculpture in relation to the landscape and the movement of people. This resulted in a new open-air exhibition, from 4 November 1995.

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Mowbray’s abstract sculptures were wonderfully imaginative and elegant; shown in groups they gave the impression of ‘speaking’ to one another, and indicated the influence that collaborating with dance had had on her work. Situated in a glade of trees on Driveside they had a dynamic, magical quality. Each outdoor sculpture was a vessel into and through which we could see glimmers of light, constantly changing with the time, weather and season. As the subtle tonal values of the sculptures emerged, so too did their simple line and clarity of form. In the group work, Inside Out, and the single, massive sculpture, Beyond and Within (5.4 x 3.7m), Mowbray displayed her precise understanding of the landscape and ability to deal with it's grand scale.

The simplicity of Mowbray’s sculptures belied the technical knowledge she had accrued over the previous decade, using a process which resembled that of dress-making, working from drawing, to paper model, to steel maquette and ultimately scaling up to full-size sculpture. Previously she had used the advanced laser-cutter of B. Allsop Ltd. near Huddersfield, removing some of the painstaking cutting of steel by hand, although each steel segment was still hand-rolled prior to welding. These qualities were also found in Mowbray’s gallery works: large steel ‘drawings’, their precursors, exquisite lead maquettes, and the four steel sculptures made in 1992 for Surface Tension, a collaboration with the choreographer Gregory Nash and composer, James Beirne. In Mowbray’s delicate stain and graphite drawings on board, simplicity, coolness and honed-down forms were again brought together, grouped in single lines.

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I remember being fascinated by this exhibit as a child. Great to to see pictures of past exhibits, so many good memories of days out at the park.
Chris on Joanna Mowbray: New Steel Sculpture and Drawings

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