Art has always been an important part of my studies and my life. I am studying for a Masters in Antiquity, a degree that features the art and architecture left by fallen kingdoms.
I found myself recently drawn to the works of Robert Page RBSA and his immaculate bronze portraiture sculptures. These can currently be found in a solo exhibition on the ground floor of the Gallery. In a two-part series, I hope to unfold some of the legends behind these works…
I was instantly struck by the ways in which each bust captures a moment on the face of those depicted, immortalised in bronze like some Hellenistic hero.
One of the most striking pieces is Sleeping Achilles. There is none of the flamboyancy or chauvinism that was so infamously captured by Brad Pitt in the 2004 graphic retelling of Homer’s Epic Iliad. Instead, we find our hero resting, perhaps between battles, seemingly content with the fate that his arrival into the Trojan War has sealed.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Achilles’ involvement in the war confirms his death at a young age but immortalises his name as one of the world’s greatest warriors. In Homer’s work the hero is depicted as a bloodthirsty soldier, seeking to secure his name in history and create a legacy built on his ability to withstand all tests in war.
What we see in Page’s work is a different depiction of Achilles, where the hero finds solace in sleep. His head is adorned with a helmet, suggesting that even in times of peace and rest, there is but one thing on his mind.
Achilles refuses to enter battle at the beginning of the Iliad after a dispute with Agamemnon. The fact that Page depicts him sleeping with his helmet on could suggest that he is actively avoiding war for a time. In this way the bronze actually depicts the two sides to his character: that he’s a strong warrior but also selfish and potentially ignoring his duty in war. War is a constant, and no matter where he finds comfort, it will always surround him.
Robert Page has a fantastic number of works on show including the two pictured above. History seems to play a significant role in the works of Mr Page and it is refreshing to see such a modern take on the classics and also figures lesser known, each with their own tale to tell and captured beautifully in a moment of tranquillity.
From a purely selfish point of view, it is great to see the classical works I have studied from a young age and grown to love brought to life and reinvented for the wider community to appreciate.
So be you a classically trained academic like myself or a lover of all things art, I highly encourage you to come and examine these remarkable sculptures for yourself.
By Thomas Taylor, RBSA Marketing Intern
Thomas Taylor is studying for a Masters in Antiquity, having completed an Undergraduate Degree in Ancient History at the University of Birmingham. He uses his knowledge of the world of Antique art to respond to contemporary works found in the RBSA Gallery.
Current Call for Entries
We put on an exciting annual programme of exhibitions featuring the work of artists who exhibit at national and international level. All the artists who exhibit with us enjoy a prime city centre location to showcase their work.
Prize Exhibition: deadline 28 March
Check out the current call for our Prize Exhibition, which is open to all artists: go to the RBSA website where you’ll find a downloadable application pack, payment options and full instructions.
Making a purchase
If you are interested in buying work featured in our exhibitions we take a deposit or full payment at the gallery, and you can arrange to collect your work once the exhibition is over. If you can’t make it to an exhibition, call us on 0121 236 4353 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Own Art scheme makes the process affordable through an interest free loan: artwork valued at over £100 can be paid for in ten instalments.
Why not visit the RBSA soon and enjoy some inspirational art?