The quintessentially English grounds of Asthall Manor, former home of the Mitford sisters, provides the magnificent backdrop for On Form, a summer outdoor sculpture show from Sunday June 8 to Sunday July 6 with more than 200 works in stone by 30 contemporary sculptors. Among the better-known exhibitors are Johannes von Stumm, president of the Royal British Society of Sculptors from 2009 to 2012, and Jordi Raga-Frances, whose creations at Gloucester and Canterbury cathedrals have won great acclaim.
Another is Tom Stogdon, whose work I first encountered at London’s Masterpiece fair last year, when I was struck by its powerful sense of calm. Repetition and movement are recurrent themes, yet tranquillity pervades his work. Here he is showing Stone Overlap (£16,000, second picture), a giant portal of Tewkesbury sandstone, and Changing Landscape (£15,000), a cityscape inspired by the Thames as it runs through London, plus Gabriel’s Wing (£5,000), Citadel II (£3,800) and Slate Ammonite (£2,500 or £7,000 for three).
Further highlights include Jude Tucker’s organic Transposition (£5,000) and wing-like Ithaca (£3,000, third picture), Emma Maiden’s bird-like Totem (£15,000) and soaring forms by Paul Vanstone, including Ribbon Profile (£15,000, first picture) in Portuguese marble and Watching Clouds (£30,000) in white Carrera marble. Polish sculptor Syzmon Oltarzewski, who is now based in Pietrasanta, Italy, makes his UK debut with Blow (£8,200), an intricate abstract form, and other work in marble.
Such abstractions dominate this show, but among the more figurative pieces are Aly Brown’s Parvati (£8,500, fourth picture) and Female Form (£2,000). “I enjoy the challenge of carving directly in a variety of stones such as marble, alabaster and chlorite,” she says. “My flowing and organic forms merge both abstract and figurative elements, revealing the plasticity of the medium, which transforms our preconceived understanding of stone.”
And changing perceptions is exactly what this imaginative show is all about.