Artworks 1971-80

This decade was a particularly productive period for me, when I tried to catch up on the practical skills that I had failed to develop earlier, following my decision to go to University rather than Art School. I played ‘catch-up’ in a range of media at Wolverhampton’s excellent Old Hall Adult Education Centre where Sculpture was the main subject I studied.

Bernard van Lierop Solzhenitsyn sculpture

‘Mask of Solzhenitsyn’ (1974) Height 75 cms (29.5 ins) Slate-filled GRP

Within four or five years I was casting sculpture which was quite large in scale, including this ‘Mask of Solzhenitsyn’. I hope one day to find a buyer, perhaps a school of Slavonic Studies, who might be able to pay for it to be cast in bronze and give it a long-term home.

I was fortunate to have my work sponsored for a couple of years by Knowles Foundry, in Willenhall, near where we lived in Wolverhampton. The foundry was managed by a Mr Brian Jackson who generously put me under the care of his senior sand-moulding craftsmen who taught me to sand-cast. I was allowed to produce a number of aluminium castings, mostly from my ‘Birth and Family’ sequence.

Bernard van Lierop Breast-feeding relief aluminium sandcasting

Breast-feeding Relief no. 1 (1976) Aluminium 15 x 20 cms (5.75 x 7.75 ins)

Over this decade several themes emerged which were to remain important to me, including photographic sequences about time, both in buildings and in seasonal changes, where my love of Caspar David Friedrich first emerged in my art practice.

Another theme of this decade was ‘Intensive Self Tuition in Figure Drawing’. This was part of a (still unrealised) plan to revive History Painting, reflecting my long-standing interest in the link between Literature and the Visual Arts.

These projects in figurative art were consciously in reaction against what I felt was the narrow-minded ‘tyranny of the avant-guarde’ in the 70′s, for example in the writings of the Guardian art critic Caroline Tisdall.

Towards the end of this decade, I shared a two-man show with painter and performance artist Simon Britton at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, in an exhibition that gathered together work of the previous five years.