With the Body in Mind

Alan Caine
Associate Director Exhibition Organiser

Leicester November 2000

My contribution to this exhibition was three small ceramic pieces titled 'Body Pots'. Inspired by my use of massage techniques as forms of mark making.

The title of the exhibition was suggested by our sculpture tutor, Sian Thomas who, taking the idea seriously, gave birth to a daughter a year later. The idea was a sculpture exhibition which would explore our sense of the body 97more than simply the figure and its appearance. It would include work by artists who approached the body in diverse ways, using a wide variety of materials.

With the range of materials, the idea of touch as well as sight was an important consideration. I mentioned touch to someone from a funding organisation, and the response was "It has already been done." That was not news, since part of the foundation of the Richard Attenborough Centre was based on a series of exhibitions at the end of the 1980's, including Touch and See and Finding Form. The element of touch was clearly important as a way into sculpture for people with little or no sight, and it also provided a powerful tool to educate viewers into an understanding of the intricacy, sensuality and tactile power of works which usually belong to the area of eyes only". We believed that the cause of art appreciation, as well as access for people with visual impairments, would be served if it were possible for galleries to encourage an understanding of tactile perception.

This exhibition is about sculpture and a sense of the body: its beauty, complexity, mystery and frailty. A significant core of work is by professional artists whose persistent work and interest in the subject over the years has resulted in some powerful statements. From the outset, we decided to include some work by less-established artists and students 97 with various considerations in mind: energy, an element of discovery, diversity of approach. We also wanted work by some artists with disability.

The co-operation of all the artists has been hugely encouraging. It has made the complex process of putting together a show of this sort a satisfying adventure. Nicholas Watkins, Reader in History of Art at the University of Leicester, who has generously written the catalogue, has been of particular help by "finding" a number of fine works which have been included in the show. Helaine Blumenfeld who, like all the artists, generously lent work for the exhibition, has also provided contacts with exhibitors as well as moral support and useful ideas, and we are grateful to Dan Archer for putting us in touch with a number of students as well as staff at the Loughborough University degree show. The Centre's Director, Eleanor Hartley, Jean Shaw and the RAC staff have been an essential, energetic and benign part of the project.

We are particularly grateful to the Bruce Wake Charity whose substantial grant has allowed us to put together such an exhibition.

A full exhibition catalogue is also available in print, Braille, large print and audio-tape from the Richard Attenborough Centre, University of Leicester.

Return to Exhibitions