The Queen of the Night, based on Kali the Hindu goddess of love and revenge, is Michael Sandle's summation of his musings about violence in women, a subject that has remained with him since childhood. Sandle's problematic relationship with his mother, a strong and sometimes violent person, triggered an obsession with aggression which forms the base of his sculptural practice.
This sculpture may possibly be the last in Sandle's long series of monumental standing female figures which includes St Margaret (1992) and Woman for Heidelberg (1987). These compositions are allusive, containing sculptural elements culled from many sources. The Queen of the Night has very few loving attributes. In Sandle's words, “She has a nasty, unpleasant head and a head-dress that came from thinking of Wrigley's chewing gum packs.” The wreath of burning penises which at first appears almost as a garland of fruit is held aloft by Sandle's bête noire and gives the sculpture a bucolic mood which is quickly dispelled on further examination. In a sense the sculpture reads as a parable on the institution of marriage from the artist's point of view. Sandle asks us to consider whether this view reflects the depths of his being or is employed as part of an intellectual game in which black humour holds centre stage. Sandle's vision is large, and his work, whilst not easy to engage with, gives to the viewer an experience of sculpture that stands apart from fashion, hype, and commercialism.