I have drawn heads since I was about four years old and I thought someday I would be a Portrait Painter.In my 20s I studied painting with Kenneth Webb the Irish Landscape Artist at his Studio in Co Down N Ireland but it wasn't until I moved to England, married and had three girls that I switched my attention to sculpture.
A chance remark made by my mother, "Why do none of you girls do sculpture?" and my reply "Why should we?" lead to the story of my grandfather Paddy Matthews.
He was a sculptor and stone mason during the period 1885-1945. Although he trained as a stone mason he became better known in Ireland as the sculptor who carved Celtic Crosses out of Carrara Marble.
These amazing crosses can be seen in the graveyards of Skerries Co. Dublin, Eire to day. His son Patrick, though an architect also sculpted and as a child (on holiday from N Ireland) I remember seeing his wonderful carved horse's heads.
I enrolled in a weekly sculpture class at my local adult college in Richmond Surrey in 1983. The first lesson was a "life class" and a revelation in more ways than one,a naked woman lying on a mattress, not what my dear mother meant when she said I should take up sculpture. After initial advice on how to handle the clay, the tutor returned to me after an hour. He inspected my work and declared I must have done sculpture before. I kept insisting I hadn't and then told him about my grandfather, at which he said, "Ah it's in the genes".
This was indeed the start of my 'love affair' with clay modelling. Three years later I gained the highest marks in the London area for my A level sculpture and got my first commission to sculpt a portrait bust of a BBC producer. Word of mouth lead to more commissions both private and public.
In 1990 I sculpted the Prayer Collection for The Christian Resources Exhibition at Sandown, Esher
and it was while I worked on the head of Christ on the Cross I was moved to actually say out loud "I HAVE COME HOME".
During the week of the Christian Resources Exhibition 5000 visitors every day watched me as I created the bust of Mother Teresa. One of the visitors was a nun from Mother Teresa's order of The Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. She was back in England visiting her family.As she watched me model the head she began to cry and said she couldn't get over the likeness to 'Mother'.She asked if I had used glass eyes as they were so life like. I told her that the eyes were made of clay and sculpted by my grandfather.
It had become my habit when sculpting the eyes in all my portraits to say"Right Grandad you got me into this, now it's your turn, please help me get the eyes right." and do you know, he has never let me down yet.
|home | biography | commissions | contact | sales | news | blog | links|
|All content is copyrightę Mary Quinn 2006|