by Emma Clear
Corridor Gallery has the amazing privilege to exhibit “Blood and Bone” an incredible exhibition by the supremely talented Brighton artist Eve Shepherd. This show promised the delicacy of figure meeting the fragility of porcelain; the weight and strength of bronze made through the masterful hands of the sculptor Eve Shepherd and boy, did it deliver.
Eve Shepherd’s work brings us through the journey of the feminine. It pulls together, for the first time in her working practise, an encompassing theme which captures the feminine archetypes of maiden, mother and crone. This work is about lineage and the passage of time from life through death and into this never ending cycle. Eve’s work tells the story of ancient women, from the long lines of strong women from the primordial ancestry of our beginnings, to the contemporary feminine of our day. These works are a mesmerising reminder of the old and the new and the connection between the two.
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Upon walking into Eve Shepherd’s studio I was surrounded by pillars, her wrapped ceramic sculptures on plinths ready to be worked on. Rising feelings of reverence in me, it was similar to entering a room where classical figurative sculpture proudly stands on the pedestal for our admiration. At their unveiling of the pieces I noticed that the work seems to grow from the ground itself. Rough and gnarled clay transforms into the delicacy and fineness of Eve’s figures. Visceral and ghostly in their presence, they are shaped by her hands but led by the material itself. The material holds great significance: clay is made from dead things and minerals from the earth. It invites us into the ancient knowledge of the place where we have come from and where we go to. The porcelain clay is made using bone and with this we are brought through the journey of “Blood & Bone”. Our line and our making; our ancestry and our physicality; Life and Death
The whiteness of the porcelain references Victorian white marble figurative sculptures that adorned extravagant homes. This fashion was replicated in porcelain by the working class women of the time. The depth of thought flowing through Eve Shepherd’s work is astounding. She has considered everything and the show itself binds the interlocking themes with the materials. Blood and bone is referenced throughout. From the bone in the porcelain and iron used in the firing of the pieces to the crushed bone of the three oil paintings in the show. These three paintings tie the 3-D works together by their use of blood red and the feelings it evokes of looking inwards, to the body.
If we were to cut through the clay works we would see layers like tree rings as it has gone through the phases of creation. The artist is all through the work, inside and out, her resonance and intention built up in layers and layers in the pieces. This is why the clay feels so important in Eve Shepherd’s work. As her art has developed she has begun to bridge the gap between bronze and ceramic. The work needs to be in ceramic to show the delicacy of the subject, and they need to be bronze to communicate the strength of woman. They convey the universal truth of femininity; that there is strength in fragility and vulnerability. Porcelain embodies this strength and holds the importance of the unique one off pieces. And Bronze the weighty grounding force full of permanency.
Eve’s working practise embodies the lineage of Fine Art. She brings contemporary themes to the fastidiousness and precision of traditional sculpture techniques. Eve is a truly talented, skilful and traditionally trained ceramic sculptor. Having spent over 20 years perfecting her skills she has gained the ability to successfully marry self-expression with tradition. At the age of just 17 Eve Shepherd was working under the apprenticeship and tutelage of the established artist Anthony Bennett and after only four months was giving the opportunity to work in a large international sculpture company in York. By her early 20’s she was given the responsibility of heading sculpture teams globally working in countries from Croatia to Aswan, Israel to Singapore. This brought about a decision to go to Chelsea college of Art and Design. The experience further enabled her to ground her steadfastness in working with traditional materials and techniques and the ability to explore artistic voice. Eve’s hard work and passion as an artist has brought many highly prestigious commissions to her repertoire.
There is a uniqueness to Eve Shepard’s sculpture which involves a talent with visual storytelling. This uniqueness is caught in the work in the fascinating way Eve brings together very traditional looking figurative sculpture with modern and incredibly relevant themes of womanhood. There is an amazing subtlety to her work. It takes a second look and attention to detail to pick up the vast and fundamentally profound themes of the work. The figures are so beautiful and so full of meaning. Eve Shepherd continues to grow as a very reputable sculptor. Corridor Gallery is delighted to have the amazing opportunity to showcase her work.
The show continues in Corridor Gallery until 4th December 2016, you can see full details here. We also have a Q and A session with Eve Shepherd at Corridor Gallery on 26th of November from 2-4pm. You can find out more about this via our Facebook event.