An Encounter with a Sculptor
I met Shoreham-based sculptor Neil Wilkinson at the Creative Buzz at West Street Loft. He’s a member of the Adur Art Collective, and has exhibited across East and West Sussex. 2016 has been a busy year for him, with shows at Brighton Open Houses, the Adur Art Trail and the Arundel Gallery Trail. We had a brief chat and I wanted to find out more about him. I’m always interested to see what other artists are doing, where and how they work, so I wangled an invitation to Neil’s house.
After a warm welcome, Neil showed me some of the finished pieces around his house. His figurative sculptures are on an intimate scale and remind me of Rodin’s moody men and cavorting women from the Gates of Hell. Neil’s female figures are sensual, liberated and ecstatic; his male figures are angst-ridden or blank faced, fragmented, in torment. It’s not surprising that people are buying.
Neil is a chatty man, overflowing with ideas. They just tumble out of him in a rush of enthusiasm. He’s passionate about his work, refreshingly vocal and keen to communicate. He told me about his love of materials – resin, wood, cement and metal. He’s particularly fond of lead, and he showed me the book he’d made with faded family photographs on pages of lead, which he’d exhibited at this year’s Adur Art Trail: it’s a very poignant piece about the weight of the past, the fragility of individual lives and the inevitable disappearance of personalities of loved ones, along with images of their faces.
I had a look inside Neil’s workshop (ok, his garden shed) which was full of materials, equipment and works in progress. His latest projects feature: the skull of a small antlered animal; a balloon in a mould like a large Easter egg; a section of tree trunk waiting for the figures within to be revealed by a chainsaw; and a 3D metal frame, inside which he plans to suspend one of his figures. All this should keep Neil busy for quite a while, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. As some point, Neil plans to create work on a larger scale, so I guess a bigger shed is on the cards.
Find out more about Neil at neilwilkinsonartworks.co.uk