Sophie Dickens

Biography
[site:http://www.sophiedickens.co.uk/]
Sophie Dickens, a bright young talent
by Rosie Millard

Sophie Dickens was advised not to go to art school "It will kill you off," she was told by her school art teacher. So she went to the Courtauld Institute, where she studied the High Renaissance by day, and painted the human figure by night. "I never stopped going to life classes. I was always trying to get to grips with anatomy," she says. "But the biggest mistake I made was when I left the Courtauld. I was working at a Bond St Gallery, selling Victorian paintings to tourists. It was awful. One day, I just walked out." And into a commission from a museum in Plymouth to sculpt, of all things, the head of Walter Raleigh. Getting to grips with the eminent Elizabethan proved an epiphany. "I had to make him out off clay," she says. "Doing it was just instant happiness. It gave me the feeling of well-being which comes when you realise, immediately, that this is what you must do." Interestingly, when she looks back at her earlier paintings, she now identifies them as "the paintings of a sculptor".
She signed up for two years' training in sculpture under Clive Duncan at the John Cass Foundation in White chapel, and the anatomy course at The Slade, where she would study cadavers. Fortunately for her, figurative work was going through one of its unfashionable moments. "It was great. I was the only person in the life drawing room. So I could get the model to do whatever I wanted. I used to get one man to act just like a chicken." Gradually her passion for clay graduated to a fascination for working in the malleable yet crisp medium of wood. "I wanted the anatomy to show, but not as if the figure had been flayed," she comments. It takes confidence to combine immediacy alongside references to the art historical cannon, but Dickens pulls it off triumphantly. Icarus, Europa, a cart wheeling figure, a leaping hare, ravens in the sitting room; the fluency and dynamism of Dickens' oeuvre belies a fundamental appreciation not only in the aesthetic of living beings, but an ebullient joy regarding shape itself.
Rosie Millard
Arts journalist

Artist’s Statement
The earliest sculptures ever made, in nascent cultures throughout history, were figurative and were used to explain the inexplicable - fertility, the weather, divinity, omnipotence, powerful magic. The most important part of my education as an artist was the study of the history of art - the history of physical human expression and the manipulation of others, a means of making a non-verbal statement about who we are and what we believe, whether artist, patron or commissioning body.
For me, the wonderful thing about relating sculpture to the human figure is that nobody is excluded from it. Through the application of pieces of wood onto a steel armature I can convey emotions and preoccupations that are meaningful to me - vulnerability, spiritual energy and the Don Quixote-ness of man’s struggle with his own humanity.
My technique evolved from the traditional modeller’s practice of packing out armatures with pieces of wood before applying clay to the form. I started using curved pieces of wood, creating an interplay of concave and convex surfaces that relate to anatomy and movement. The faceted surfaces translate very well into bronze, accentuating the jutting reliefs and airy voids that inform the momentum and physicality of the sculptures.

Adam and Eve
Sophie Dickens's Adam and Eve is a masterly and extremely moving exercise in balance. The manner in which she has sculpted two monumental figures, one female, one male, in a scene of entire togetherness, allows her to explore a range of powerful and simultaneous fleeting emotions. She has created a compelling image of vulnerability and despair, which nonetheless is leavened by Adam's protective tenderness and by Eve's gesture in which shame is blended with an optimistic hint at her future maternity. The mood shifts as the viewer moves round the piece. At one moment we are overwhelmed by the weighty sorrow of the event; the next we are struck by the way in which the figures seem to leave the ground, like souls rising to heaven. This extraordinary combination of lightness and weight works through the composition, but above all through the sculptural surface. Dickens employs both jutting relief and airy voids to establish the anatomy of her figures and, still more importantly, their sacred and very human predicament.
Luke Syson
Curator of 15th Italian Paintings, National Gallery, London

This graceful, even tender, two-figure group achieves something very unusual in the recent history of religious art by making us feel again the universal and personal meanings of human disaster. As they walk away, Adam's body inclines in grief but also shields the inconsolable Eve as she clutches at her breasts, beside herself with loss and remorse. The force of the sculptor's rendering is unsentimental but the beholder feels they should step back again, avoiding to intrude on such an intimate calamity.
Dr Alison Wright
Senior Lecturer, University College, London

Sophie Dickens Working Practice
Aided by a meticulous study of anatomy, learnt in actual clinical dissections (for artists) and drawing classes, Sophie constructs armatures in welding metal rods together like lyrical skeletal drawings on which she begins to attach or layer specifically worked pieces of wood cut on a band saw from oak panels. Using a fluid dynamic in understanding the nature of convex and concave forms she creates a muscular movement akin to the classic Eadweard Muybridge studies that have influenced her, ultimately bringing all the segments together and creating a cohesive kinematical feel of bone, muscle and sinew. She makes what can be very complex achievements seem effortless with a natural ability that gives a life and character to her work.
Simon Levy
Sculptor and Painter
Resident in England and Mexico


























Sophie Dickens - Icarus III
Icarus III
Sophie Dickens - HOLDING ON
HOLDING ON
Sophie Dickens - PELICAN FEEDING (Lifesize)
PELICAN FEEDING (Lifesize)
Sophie Dickens - PELICAN STANDING (Lifesize)
PELICAN STANDING (Lifesize)
Sophie Dickens - PELICAN PREENING (Lifesize)
PELICAN PREENING (Lifesize)
Sophie Dickens - READY TO ROLL (Seated Rhino)
READY TO ROLL (Seated Rhino)
Sophie Dickens - PLAYING DOGS
PLAYING DOGS
Sophie Dickens - BRINGING HOME THE WINE X6 (In a Saucepan, In a Hat, In a Bucket, In a Shoe, In a Tablecloth, In a Glass)
BRINGING HOME THE WINE X6 (In a Saucepan, In a Hat, In a Bucket, In a Shoe, In a Tablecloth, In a Glass)
Sophie Dickens - THREE GRACES (Small)
THREE GRACES (Small)
Sophie Dickens - CENTAUR STRETCHING
CENTAUR STRETCHING
Sophie Dickens - ICARUS RISING (Small Relief)
ICARUS RISING (Small Relief)
Sophie Dickens - HEAD OF MEDUSA
HEAD OF MEDUSA
Sophie Dickens - SATYR CLAPPING
SATYR CLAPPING
Sophie Dickens - LAUGHING SATYR
LAUGHING SATYR
Sophie Dickens - ST. JOHN (Large)
ST. JOHN (Large)
Sophie Dickens - ST. LUKE (Large)
ST. LUKE (Large)
Sophie Dickens - ST. MATHEW (Large)
ST. MATHEW (Large)
Sophie Dickens - ST. MARK (Large)
ST. MARK (Large)
Sophie Dickens - ST. JOHN
ST. JOHN
Sophie Dickens - ST. LUKE
ST. LUKE
Sophie Dickens - ST MARK
ST MARK
Sophie Dickens - ST. MATHEW
ST. MATHEW
Sophie Dickens - LARGE DIVE (Set of Five)
LARGE DIVE (Set of Five)
Sophie Dickens - LARGE MOROTE SEIO NAGE
LARGE MOROTE SEIO NAGE
Sophie Dickens - FLICKFLACK (Set of Five)
FLICKFLACK (Set of Five)
Sophie Dickens - HANDSPRING (On Staircase)
HANDSPRING (On Staircase)
Sophie Dickens - HANDSPRING (To Feet)
HANDSPRING (To Feet)
Sophie Dickens - HANDSPRING (From Hands)
HANDSPRING (From Hands)
Sophie Dickens - FENCERS - AFTER MUYBRIDGE (Parre and Lunge)
FENCERS - AFTER MUYBRIDGE (Parre and Lunge)
Sophie Dickens - GRAECO-ROMAN WRESTLERS II
GRAECO-ROMAN WRESTLERS II
Sophie Dickens - GRAECO-ROMAN WRESTLERS I
GRAECO-ROMAN WRESTLERS I
Sophie Dickens - MARKSMAN (Small)
MARKSMAN (Small)
Sophie Dickens - STRAIGHT JAB (Boxers)
STRAIGHT JAB (Boxers)
Sophie Dickens - CLEAN AND JERK (Set of Five)
CLEAN AND JERK (Set of Five)
Sophie Dickens - BIRTH OF VENUS 1
BIRTH OF VENUS 1
Sophie Dickens - Judo
Judo
Sophie Dickens - Tree People
Tree People
Sophie Dickens - Balancing Men
Balancing Men
Sophie Dickens - Mother and Child (John Lewis)
Mother and Child (John Lewis)
Sophie Dickens - Falling Icarus
Falling Icarus
Sophie Dickens - Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve
Sophie Dickens - Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve
Sophie Dickens - Cartwheeling Men
Cartwheeling Men
Sophie Dickens - Adam and Eve at Chichester
Adam and Eve at Chichester
Sophie Dickens - Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve
Sophie Dickens - Pegasus
Pegasus
Sophie Dickens - Duck I
Duck I
Sophie Dickens - Duck II
Duck II
Sophie Dickens - Icarus II
Icarus II
Sophie Dickens - Duck III
Duck III
Sophie Dickens - Icarus I
Icarus I
Sophie Dickens - Frog Prince
Frog Prince
Sophie Dickens - Leapfrog
Leapfrog
Sophie Dickens - Europa
Europa
Sophie Dickens - Jacob and the Angel
Jacob and the Angel
Sophie Dickens - Apollo and Daphne
Apollo and Daphne
Sophie Dickens - Icarus Descending
Icarus Descending
Sophie Dickens - Continuous Hares
Continuous Hares
Sophie Dickens - Dancer
Dancer
Sophie Dickens - Seven Brothers
Seven Brothers
Sophie Dickens - Diana and Hounds
Diana and Hounds
Sophie Dickens - Angel and Devil
Angel and Devil
Sophie Dickens - The Way the Land lies
The Way the Land lies
Sophie Dickens - Rolling Dog
Rolling Dog
Sophie Dickens - Cartwheel
Cartwheel
Sophie Dickens - Stag
Stag
Sophie Dickens - Swan
Swan
Sophie Dickens - Leda I
Leda I
Sophie Dickens - Cartwheel,lifesize
Cartwheel,lifesize
Sophie Dickens - Europa
Europa
Sophie Dickens - Leda III
Leda III
Sophie Dickens - Leda II
Leda II
Sophie Dickens - Diana and Hounds
Diana and Hounds
Sophie Dickens - Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve
Sophie Dickens - Minotaur
Minotaur
Sophie Dickens - Young Bacchus
Young Bacchus
Sophie Dickens - Halt!
Halt!
Sophie Dickens - Morote Seionage
Morote Seionage
Sophie Dickens - Rolling Dogs
Rolling Dogs
Sophie Dickens - Fighting Cockerel I (on left)
Fighting Cockerel I (on left)
Sophie Dickens - Fighting Cockerel II (on right)
Fighting Cockerel II (on right)
Sophie Dickens - Rolling Dogs
Rolling Dogs
Sophie Dickens - Woman and Dog
Woman and Dog
Sophie Dickens - Fish Wrestler II
Fish Wrestler II
Sophie Dickens - Diver
Diver
Sophie Dickens - Flag Bearer
Flag Bearer
Sophie Dickens - Fish Waltz II
Fish Waltz II
Sophie Dickens - Horse and Rider
Horse and Rider
Sophie Dickens - Minotaur
Minotaur
Sophie Dickens - Running Dog
Running Dog
Sophie Dickens - Angel
Angel
Sophie Dickens - Icarus IV
Icarus IV
Sophie Dickens - Icarus V
Icarus V
Sophie Dickens - Don Quixote
Don Quixote
Sophie Dickens - Study for Lady and Toucan
Study for Lady and Toucan
Sophie Dickens - Lady and Toucan
Lady and Toucan
Sophie Dickens - Sprint
Sprint
Sophie Dickens - Hercules and the Lion
Hercules and the Lion
Sophie Dickens - Bull
Bull
Sophie Dickens - Bear
Bear
Sophie Dickens - Lion
Lion
Sophie Dickens - Horse and Groom
Horse and Groom
Sophie Dickens - Rearing Horse and Groom
Rearing Horse and Groom
Sophie Dickens - Cheltenham
Cheltenham
Sophie Dickens - Hercules and Anteaus
Hercules and Anteaus