PUBLISHED: 11:05 29 July 2014 | UPDATED: 11:05 29 July 2014
This month The Sculpt Gallery in Tiptree hosts the People and Pots exhibition featuring sculptures by Essex artist, Neal French. Janice Walker reveals what visitors can expect from the exhibition
Neal French grew up in Sandon and this summer he returns to Essex to exhibit some of his work at The Sculpt Gallery near Great Braxted, Tiptree. Neal has enjoyed a varied career in the field of art since he graduated from The Royal College of Art with first class honours in ceramics and sculpture in 1958, including the position of staff designer and acting chief designer at Worcester Royal Porcelain Co Ltd. In 1972, his career diverged to education and he was in charge of ceramics and 3D design at the Hornsey College of Art and Middlesex Polytechnic, until he was made deputy dean of art and design in 1988. Neal retired in 1992 after the title of emeritus professor was bestowed by Middlesex University. Throughout the past 44 years, Neal has written and had published numerous articles and papers, as well as books on ceramics and sculpture.
Many of us would reflect on a career as successful as Neal’s and see retirement as an opportunity to reduce the pace of life, but, fortunately for the art lover, Neal continues to create stunning figurative sculptures from a variety of materials including ceramic, bronze, terracotta and stone.
‘I thought sculpting would be an elegant hobby to enjoy in retirement,’ says Neal. ‘Little did I know that it would turn out to be a third career.’
In 2013, Neal, along with five other artists, submitted two designs to Tiptree Parish Council for a public artwork for permanent display at the Tiptree Community Centre. Neal’s Fruit Picker B was selected and the finished sculpture will take pride of place in the flower bed at the front of the building.
‘I felt fruit picking was a relevant subject to Tiptree and I wanted the sculpture to be lively and represent the aspiration of the village,’ explains Neal. The resin maquette of this winning piece of art is one of Neal’s pieces on display at the People and Pots exhibition, along with works by sculptor John Brown, wood-fired stoneware pots by Chris Lewis and sculptural pots by Stephanie Wright and Anne-Marie Jacobs.
This month’s exhibition gives you the opportunity to view creative compositions by these prestigious artists at the welcoming and picturesque venue that is The Sculpt Gallery. You may even find yourself coming home with a purchase that will be an admired acquisition for many years to come. n
The People and Pots exhibition runs from July 19 to August 31 (open every Saturday). For details contact The Sculpt Gallery on 07980 768616 or visit www.sculptgallery.com
For more information on Neal French, visit www.nealfrench.co.uk