The first ever RBSA charity auction takes place on November 2, run by Bonhams and hosted by Deutsche Bank.
Artists have been extremely generous in donating lots for the auction, which will raise much-needed funds for the RBSA and Deutsche Bank’s Charity of the Year, Autistica.
Robert Page, an RBSA member, has work in private collections across the UK, and has donated his sculpture African Queen.
‘The model was a very beautiful girl called Pauline…. originally I had thought of transforming her into Cleopatra, but a friend loaned me a number of books on African clothing including head and hair decoration. There were some wonderful images with many fantastic and inventive styles to inspire me. This is the first time a work of mine has appeared at auction so it will be quite exciting to see the outcome!
Robert told ART BLOG more about his practice as one of the region’s most sought-after sculptors…
When did you first know sculpture was what you wanted to do?
I think that I became fascinated by sculpture when I first saw Epstein’s Lucifer in the Birmingham City Gallery when I was around 14.
The piece completely bowled me over. I had seen nothing like that before and the wonderful thing is that is still knocks me for six whenever I visit the gallery.
Seeing his St Michael and the Devil at Coventry Cathedral in 1962 also made and continues to make a similar impact.
With this enthusiasm I have no idea why I didn’t attempt to pursue a career as a sculptor. I was probably frightened of the risks involved and instead pursued a 40-year career in what seemed to be the relative safety of the NHS!
Who were you taught by and who would you class as your chief influences?
When I retired I promised myself that I would take up art again and, luckily, Open Studies at the University of Warwick offered a one term introductory course in portrait sculpture with Tanya Kozin RBSA as tutor.
Robert Page at work
It was the first time that I had ever sculpted. I found the first three weeks very difficult but then something seemed to “click” and I found a way forward.
In fact, portrait sculpting seemed easier than portrait drawing and painting. Later I was accepted onto two master classes organised by the Society of Portrait Sculptors.
It helped me realise that every artist must find his own route – there doesn’t appear to be a definitive way.
What are your current projects?
When I was asked to do a demonstration at the RBSA as part of the Open Studios weekend it seemed necessary to bring a model so that visitors could relate to the piece I was trying to create.
As I would need a model for the whole day my partner, Alan, was a fairly obvious choice. He is a bit of a fidget so I suggested that as I would need him to sit still for at least four hours he bring a book and I would sculpt him reading.
He often reads in the evening with a smoking hat on and I have tried to capture the concentration and calm he displays then.
Iago is inspired by a great photograph of the same name by Julia Margaret Cameron taken in 1867.
As soon as I saw this photograph I knew that I had to make a portrait sculpture. It is quite stunning. Although it is 150 years old it has such an amazing contemporary feel -it almost shoots forward to you.
I think it is fascinating that the model in looking down and not at you but he still has the power to command your attention.
After I had completed Iago it seemed natural to plan a portrait of Othello as a companion piece. It took some time to find an image but eventually I found some photographs of a boxer of which set me off.
He had a way of turning his head which showed great nobility and also great sadness. I found him perfect for Othello – the piece almost created itself.
Portraiture has been, and always will be, my prime interest. I find people watching endlessly fascinating and particularly when they are in extreme situations. So, for example, an actor playing King Lear offers a rich seam of inspiration.
I am a great admirer of the theatre photographer Angus McBean and constantly refer to him. In the same way, classical mythology offers the potential to look at every possible emotion.
About our Charity Auction
You can bid on Robert’s sculpture, African Queen, at the RBSA’s first ever Charity Auction, which takes place on November 2 from 6.30pm.
A fully illustrated catalogue is available online as a downloadable pdf
Bidders are invited to browse the catalogue and shortlist works of interest
All donated works can be viewed on arrival at the venue
After registering, guests will be given a numbered paddle to hold up when bidding
The event starts with welcome drinks at 6.30pm
The auction itself runs from 7.30pm to approximately 8.30pm
Bidding will take place at the auction and is open to ticket holders only
Payment can be taken at the end of the evening
A 50% deposit can be placed if works are to be collected from the RBSA Gallery
The event will be run by Bonhams and hosted by Deutsche Bank at their prestigious Brindleyplace offices.
Tickets are £10 with income from ticket sales going to Autistica, Deutsche Bank’s Charity of the Year. All auction proceeds will go to the RBSA: artists have generously donated works to raise funds for the visual arts charity which is one of the oldest Royal Societies in the UK.
To purchase a ticket:
Call us on 0121 236 4353 to pay by card over the phone
Send a cheque in the post (payable to ‘RBSA’) to RBSA, 4 Brook St, Birmingham B3 1SA
Pay by cash in person at the Gallery
Autistica both funds and campaigns for medical research to understand the causes of autism, develop new treatments and to ensure that everyone with autism has the chance of a longer, healthier and happier life.
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