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Saturday, 11 November 2017

Stroking Statues

I have seen some funny things in life but Adam takes the biscuit. It’s an Epstein sculpture, carved from alabaster in 1938/39 and, not surprisingly perhaps, found it difficult to find a buyer, or indeed anyone willing to exhibit it. Then again, World War 11 was just around the corner. It did at last find a home . . . in a travelling fair as a ‘freak object’ before being sold to Madame Tussauds. It says something for the taste and discernment of the 7th Earl of Harewood who bought it in 1961. Fifteen years later the Entrance Hall was strengthened and since 1976 the statue is the first thing you see as you enter the house.

My first thought on seeing it was profound gratitude that God not Jacob Epstein had designed man. Having said that, it is immensely tactile, and I found my hand straying in unexpected places. Epstein did eventually get the hang of things, if you pardon the expression, as the 18foot high bronze statue adorning an iconic Liverpool Department store illustrates.



 Sometimes known as the ‘Big Man’ or ‘Nobby Lewis’, sometimes ‘Dickie Lewis,’ it stands on a plinth like the prow of a ship overhanging the main entrance. Its left hand is stretched out and his right arm raised as calling or signalling and symbolises Liverpool’s resurgence after the war. It's primary function though was as a meeting place for friends or perhaps girls. 'See you under the Big Man.' 

But back to Adam. I’d had my fill of stroking it and so wandered off in search of something more orthodox. This looks promising, I thought. It was a statue on a plinth and from the back looked as though   it brandished something worthwhile.

 I went to investigate and discovered an important truth. It’s decidedly okay to stroke something that bears only the slightest resemblance to anything human. Less so for something more specifically so. Besides, I couldn't reach. 

 My final thoughts were that statues end up in some very weird places. Adam, after a chequered career ended up in Harewood House. Nobby Lewis, another Epstein statue ends up fronting a derelict Department store. I think, though, the one on terrace has the best view of all.

By John Bradley - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6520483

1 comment:

Maria Zannini said...

My taste in art is mostly conservative, though I do like to mix it with prehistoric or early native works. That first sculpture is beyond my comprehension.

There are parts that appeal to me, particularly the head bent back, but the rest I'm afraid looks like an adolescent wet dream.

Epstein must've had wealthy fans if he managed such big commissions.