Brian studied at The University of Newcastle graduating in 1975 with an MFA in Sculpture. His work has been shown through exhibitions, collections and lectures in Europe, Australia, USA and Asia including; The Condition of Sculpture, Hayward Gallery, London; The Paris Biennale; The British Art Show; Sculpture Trails Museum, Indiana; Museum of Steel Sculpture Ironbridge, House of the Artist Moscow, the Guandong Museum of Art, China and Kakimoro Bunko, Itami, Japan. He was Associate Dean for Research, Resources and External Engagement at the University of Sunderland for many years until my retirement where he was awarded the role of Professor Emeritus.
Walking has been an important part of my practice as an artist for many years bringing that experience to the making of sculpture. Central to this are ideas about how we value landscape as well as notions of what natural beauty is – with ideas springing from romantic poetry and the link between tourism and the picturesque. Journeys are the inspiration for my work. I am interested in how journeys explore landscapes how they reveal topography and how we come to know and navigate the world. Our paths are formed, get worn, compress and build up over many generations and rivers cut and change course as they journey to the sea seemingly constant but ever changing – constantly changing both the landscape and ourselves.
The journeys are recorded through tracings from maps, aerial photographs or GPS – the track of the walk or route of the river provides the line from which the sculptures are made. The making process is important too; shaping through the cutting, layer upon layer, of the material of the “patterns”. This builds a sense of time into the work and reveals something of the history of the making. The selection of material, texture and colour is important with links to site for example cast iron for the Iron Bridge series and porcelain for the sculptures derived from the walks made in Japan. Gold leaf on oak was chosen for the Inca Trail pieces and Glass seems a natural material to begin to explore ideas about rivers.
The works have different subjects and are often shown as “collections”. For example: Walking with Poets are walks done in the footsteps of William Wordsworth in the UK and Matsuo Basho in Japan and are part of a project mapping and building sculptures celebrating their poetry. This was towards a recent exhibition in Japan and the Wordsworth Museum in the UK. The project is based on an interest in ideas about how artists and writers use the physical engagement with landscape as an inspiration, subject and methodology. Hill Walks using elevations in the tracking enables me to construct the walks in three dimensions – making sculptures that are portraits of the hills derived from the experience of climbing them. River Sculpture build from an interest in the shape of rivers as they find their way from source to sea. The Capability Brown group are derived from walks to views within Capability Brown’s designed landscapes – some made with prunings from trees planted in Brown’s time.
The sculptures serve as records, memories, souvenirs and sometimes trophies.