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Alan Thornhill on the tradition of pre-conceiving sculpture

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Published on May 3, 2011

A short clip of the Documentary film Spirit in Mass: Journey into Sculpture (2008) directed by Anna Thornhill, featuring archive footage of the artist Alan Thornhill working on a new sculpture in Putney, 1989 and the final work 20 years later. Thornhill's self-devised method of improvisation using clay allowed him to abandon the use of the sculpture armature and build freely creating a matrix with pre-prepared clay 'elements'. This allowed things to enter the work which were not preconceived, and were later seen to echo some of the sculptor's preoccupations at the time of the making of the work. This method is different from sculpture commonly produced from the maquette, which has a pre-conceived idea and is essentially pre-planned, factored up to a chosen size in a chosen material.
Film available from www.alanthornhill.co.uk where his archive of works is also accessible. The Putney Sculpture Trail is permanently accessible to the public, with 9 works by Thornhill on the south side of the river between Leaders Gardens and Prospect Quay adjoining Wandsworth Park.

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