FATHER & CHILD
By: Tony Heaton
Medium: cast bronze
Cast by Bronzecast
Issue: The Medal, no. 76 (2020)
Edition: up to 100
The artist writes about his BAMS medal: ‘Father and Child is a return to a Portland stone carving I did some years ago. I thought it would also work in tondo. It’s a memory of when my daughter was learning to walk and she would stand on my knees and then start to climb up to my shoulders. It was quite physical, different from the often passive mother and son depictions.’
Portland stone 2020
This sculpture brings together a number of aspects that have become intrinsic to my work: principally the circle, square and triangle, simple archetype geometry that reoccurs.
The circle, symbol of perfection and eternity; Jung described it as the symbol of the self.
The square, associated with stability, the points of the compass, the four elements, seasons.
When juxtaposed the circle and square are considered to symbolise oneness, the elimination of imperfections and impairments.
The mathematical challenge attempted by Alchemists to try to square a circle was proved to be an impossibility.
The work consolidates these elements in an attempt to describe wholeness by bringing together the five separate and complete individual blocks and uniting them in the geometry.
The question is posed that the power at the centre, by the nature and juxtaposition of the work, is rendered inaccessible to many.
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Joe Bidder profiles Tony Heaton, a leading artist and major figure within the Disability Arts movement.
The interview was commissioned by DAO
A £50,000 Arts Council commission to make a large scale sculpture sited at the University of Portsmouth is a significant new achievement for disabled artist, Tony Heaton. His five-piece 25 foot diameter sculpture constructed in Portland stone will be the permanent centre-piece of SquaringtheCircle?, a Dada-South collaborative arts project in partnership with Diablo Arts, the University of Portsmouth, St George's Beneficial School and the Portsea community.
The project, managed by Zoe Partington, includes other disabled artists Signdance Collective, Jon Adams, Joolz Cave-Berry, Mark Ware, architects, staff and students, school children, and monumental masons based at the world-famous Dorset quarry. Squaring the Circle is a complex partnership but one relished by Tony Heaton as he develops the design, carving, finishing, placement and dedication of this massive eleven ton installation. The artistic vision is rooted in disability arts: an irregular circle of five carved stone seats - its inner sanctum inaccessible to wheelchair users. The largest piece of disability art ever erected in the UK, it will stimulate discussion, learning and controversy.
Winning competitions is nothing new for Heaton who has public art work standing in Beswick, Manchester (GreyMares), Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and at other locations. Born in Preston in 1954 and taking inspiration from his father, a coppersmith who had designed and built a sailing boat from recycled timber including a teak bar-top from a demolished pub, Heaton, an admirer of the ambiguous poetry of Leonard Cohen, has described himself somewhat self-deprecatingly as a fiddler of bits.
Impaired by a spinal injury at 16, he switched from a comprehensive school to a local arts college at Southport but made a decisive move in 1972 when he opted for self employment as artist, sign writer, disc jockey, record shop (punk and new wave) proprietor, progressive rock band member and painter of murals. Heaton gathered enormous expertise and self-reliance whilst appearing to drift aimlessly. In 1986 he changed direction once more when he enrolled on a visual arts degree at Lancaster University whilst earning a living as a sign-painter.
A contemporary of Andy Goldsworthy, Heaton experimented with environmental sculpture on the seemingly endless sands at Morecambe Bay where his work could be seen for 15 miles. Observing
his tracks in the sand, Lancaster's head of sculpture, Paul Hatton,
urged him to develop this sense of difference into a rich source of unique work. Heaton states, “A chance comment about how the marks left in the sand by my feet and crutches made my tracks immediately identifiable became the catalyst for a whole series of works relating to disability and my interaction with the environment.” Heaton exhibited a plaster cast of his feet and stick imprints, his first piece of disability art although at that time he had no knowledge of its existence nor of the emerging disability arts movement.
Significant sculptures followed - many with witty punning titles, such as Wheelchair Entrance, Spring Back and Great Britain from a Wheelchair. These caught the attention of LDAF who commissioned him for Euroday '91 to construct Shaken Not Stirred, a seven-foot high pyramid of 1,680 charity collection cans which Heaton demolished theatrically with a Doc Marten boot attached to an artificial leg. The performance was repeated to great effect at the Block Telethon event in London, filmed for BBC2 and reported in the national press. [See reviews of Heaton's work by distinguished disabled artists/critics Adam Reynolds, Allan Sutherland, Katherine Walsh and Deborah Williams published in DAIL and DAM magazines].
Maquette of Squarinthecircle?
YOU LAUGH AT ME
'You laugh because I am different, I laugh because you are all the same'. The work consists of five figures huddled on a bench, the central figure facing the opposite direction. The work is carved from statuary marble.
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Direct carving, Carrara marble, 2005.
Two large naked men, sat on a bench that has no legs.
ZENMEN is now available. ast same size in white marble resin.
Direct carving, Carrara marble
work in progress
Carrara Marble, 2005
This sculpture was made following a discussion with Disabled artist Mike O’Hara who talked about making art whilst gradually losing his vision; he talked about his quest of searching for the light, to have enough to give him the vision to make work.
The sculpture attempts to define the gradual loss as in the movement of a serpent, steady, imperceptible, wrapping around and piercing the eye. The underside of the top of the form is carved thinly, rather than pierced, to allow the penetration of a milky light, a glowing of light coming through the sculpture that shows the veins in the marble as the veins in the eye but does not illuminate.
From: Sculpture in a walled garden: Moreton, Dorset Photo ©Brendan Buesnel
In addition to the original carving from Statuary Carrara Marble SWEET MEETING is available as a limited edition cast in white resin.
Or, as SWEET MEETING FRUITS, in a limited edition
Casts available in a range of colours
The Art House
Carved in Italy from statuary marble from Carrara. The inspiration was a
re-discovered friendship. The theme returns again to my interest in the circular and cyclical.
Carved from a single piece of ash
The elm trunk separated into sections is reintegrated by the carved arcs of the broken circle.
Carved from Portland Stone, a simple Monolith
LEADLINE - 1989 Elm/Lead
Simple objects, felled wood that will expand and crack, contract and split. Time will mark the subtle changes of colour and texture, the lead has certain qualities as do the marks left by the hammer and chisel.
Carved from a single piece of willow. Once the bark was removed, the original form was already suggested in that the navel and female genitalia could be clearly seen in one side of the tree trunk. I carved the male representation on the other side of the trunk thus the sculpture, when viewed in the round, shows a male side and a female side. The subtext is 'man with thin right leg seeks woman with thin left leg for a balanced relationship', redolent of adverts in those personal columns, particularly in the disability press.
FATHER & CHILD
Carved from Portland Stone at Tout Quarry, Portland, Dorset. As a child, my daughter Nic delighted in holding my hands and gripping tight, then climbing up my body until she was standing on my shoulders. I hope the work symbolises the close bond we share and reverses the classical role of mother and son.
Split is a woodcarving made from a piece of Ash discarded by a wood turner as useless because it had a 'shake' (a fault) running through it. I saw this as indicative of a society that sees only perfection and disregards all that is damaged or perceived as impaired. Yet in the sculpture, the fault becomes essential; perceived weaknesses become strengths, as the understanding of the piece depends on the fault being there.
image by Paul Kenny
In Memoriam is carved from two types of marble: the upright from portoro macchia larga marble from La Spezia; the base from calacata oro marble from Sienna.
image by Paul Kenny
A way-marker, carved from Portland stone for the Faith House Gallery in Dorset.
STABLES STUDIO WAY MARKER
A way-marker, carved from Portland stone for the Stables Artists Studios in Dorset
Direct carving, Portland stone. 4ft x 2ft x 2ft
Work in progress.
Work in progress.