Narrating Objects: Unlocking the Stories of Sculpture, Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds

Leeds Art Gallery presents its new sculpture collection, showcasing a number of recent acquisitions for the first time. The display is designed to explore the relationship between sculture and narrative, unlocking the stories that surround key works in the Leeds collection. All sculptures contain stories, whether they are the result of the artist’s thinking, the process of making, display or reception, or the context in which the works are experienced. Inevitably, these narratives influence the ways in which the art is perceived and, in turn, help to shape our understanding of the world.

One of the central pieces of the display is Rebekkah (2012) by Simon Fujiwara. This work tells the story of a young British girl’s journey to China, where she visited the site of the Terracotta Army and was herself cast and reassembled multiple times in terracotta to create a modern day version of the warriors. Comprising five terracotta figures and a documentary film, Rebekkah was presented to the gallery in 2013 and fits neatly in with the other life-size sculptures from the collection, including works by Antonio Canova, Auguste Rodin and Anthony Gormley.

Other groupings of works strive to illuminate narratives around representation of the human body and juxtapose different versions of the body from Painting (1950) by Francis Bacon to a performance by Helen Chadwick. The pieces on show explore the body from the ideal to the real, the static to the dynamic and the fragmented to the whole. Further groupings focus on monumental portrait sculpture and bring together abstract interpretations of a person. This group includes Doppelganger (1984) by Stephen Willats, which examines the different aspects of a man’s personality through the buildings he inhabits.

In addition to looking at human representation and the human body, the Leeds Art Gallery’s sculpture collection also explores landscapes and imaginary worlds. Here the sets and environemts created inspire and suggest narrative plot lines. Using photogrphy and contemporary imagery, the works demonstrate how action and moment can act as narrative devices in sculpture and capture events or experiences that unfold and develop over time.

Narrating Objects: Unlocking the Stories of Sculpture, open until Summer 2015, Leeds Art Gallery Collections Display, Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds,

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1. Simon Fujiwara Rebekkah (2012) Five terracotta dyed life-sized cast plaster female figures with accompanying video (duration 7 minutes 33 seconds) Courtesy of the Contemporary Art Society and the artist. Photo: Joe Plommer