Jon Buck: A Natural History
Royal West of England Academy, Clifton, Bristol
17th January 2015
This is a public lecture in which I have been invited by the Friends of the Royal West of England Academy to talk about my work. I begin by describing how my early experiences have affected my thirty-five years as a working sculptor, starting with a fascination with the natural world nurtured by a childhood growing up in the Somerset countryside, the subsequent influence of working with birds at Bristol Zoo before going on to art school. I then describe my early sculptural influences while still an art student, of meeting John Clinch, who was my tutor and later close friend, and influential studio visits made to well-known sculptors Nicholas Monro and Reg Butler. I then describe how my early work was taken up by the Nicholas Treadwell Gallery to become part of what he termed the Superhumanist Movement.
I describe how I quickly became disillusioned with this group and its superficial nature, and began to focus on public art projects, for a period undertaking the role of Artist in Residence. I explain how this in turn led to changing my material practice and to starting to cast my work into bronze. This led to the building of an important collaborative relationship with the craftsmen at Pangolin Editions. My lecture follows the development of my work as a sculptor, both concerned with public art projects and with establishing bodies of work intended for exhibition in more conventional gallery settings.
In this public lecture I try to elucidate how and why my sculpture has evolved, both in terms of its subject matter and in terms of process and practice. This has involved developing from what might be termed a straightforward simplified naturalism to making more abstracted forms that have included inscribed lines and patterns, as well glyphs and symbols in relief. I pay particular attention to how the change of material and process initially led to a loss of colour in my work. Then how a close collaboration with the foundry allowed experimentation that has led to the reintroduction of bold bright colours to my bronzes.
In a recent newsletter, Pangolin London gallery introduces my forthcoming show in May this year thus:
“Jon Buck has been experimenting and exploring the impact of colour and its ability to enhance sculpture for the past three decades. Continually pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with a medium usually associated with dull tones, Buck has reinvigorated bronze casting with bright, bold forms and powerful mark making. This exhibition seeks to share Buck’s exciting adventure where new processes, patinas and methods have been devised to bring into being an extraordinary artist’s vision.”