Large Spade Venus

1986
Bronze (york stone base)
187 x 79 x 25 cm
Edition of 1

Large Spade Venus, cast 1 of an edition of 4, is typical of Turnbull's work in which he combines the form of a utilitarian object with an elusive kind of figuration. This sculpture reveals Turnbull's interest in sculpture as metamorphosis. The viewer is asked to consider Large Spade Venus in the way we might look at objects from the past, which, through the passage of time, have taken on the identity of a work of art. Turnbull says, “We now no longer look at them in relationship to their utility, but for their sculptural quality, perhaps because they were sympathetically formed in the first place.” Another key formal aspect of Large Spade Venus is the way in which Turnbull has used a broad form, which from the front is almost confrontational but in profile is very narrow, to twist sculptural space, trying to make it elastic, a concept that can be traced in much of his practice.

All the sculptures in this edition have the same green patina. Colour is important in Turnbull's work. He feels that certain materials, bronze in particular, take colour well, and the colour chosen has much to do with the emotional content of the work: “One of the things about bronze is the way that it takes a range of colours that other metals don't.”

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About The Artist

Both painter and sculptor, Turnbull found sources for his work in other cultures and in classicism. For instance a Chinese mask, the gateway to a Japanese Shinto temple, a primitive artefact from the tribes of Borneo or a small Cycladic goddess were starting points for Turnbull. He was invested in abstraction and devoted his career to communicating ideals of this and conveying information in sculpture as economically and precisely as possible. Turnbull's sculptural oeuvre is both rigidly factual and yet permeates with classicism. This combination of formalism, stoicism to the ages and metamorphic content is both subliminal, reliable and monumental.

William Turnbull

Born: 1922