After twelve years, Michael is again carving marble. We had a car accident twelve years ago and Mike’s right foot was badly injured, forcing him to stop carving stone. He painted instead and this was not a bad thing because he has developed his wonderful sense of colour in a way that he may never have had the opportunity to as he was so known for his sculpture. This last year has seen him in Pietrasanta working again in marble carving studios. His foot is now able to withstand a bit of the weight bearing needed with working on stone. I can see it is a joy for him to be back with tools in his hands, tapping that luminous stone and bringing it to life.
Mike’s exhibition in La Rondine Gallery is without paintings this time. Three lush white marble sculptures in vivid contrast to one glowing golden bronze in the vaulted gallery space, five drawings pinned to the wall, another delicate two framed. The exhibition has a purity to it, in its shadowy grey and white. The forms are simple, barely textured, sensuous, the shadows soft and seductive.
One of the forms is a magnificent abstracted bird, proud and preening, flourishing its feathers. The marble is in white Carrara and it’s soft glowing creaminess is intensified by the the contrasting roughness of the divits in its feathering. It has a subtle movement that needs it to be placed somewhere centrally so that it can be fully appreciated.
The other bird form is quirky and always makes me smile. It is totally hand carved – that is, without machinery at all – so there is a liveliness in the texture and the flow of the lines, a sensitivity to the quirky lumpiness of the back of the bird, a contrast to the strange nest in the tree the bird is protecting. Tough and tender.
Then there is the kneeling woman form, or is it a pregnant woman form, she seems to be a homage to abundance and fertility. She is related to the ‘One who loves itself’, an animal form Mike created a few years ago with all the feelings of self love and delight in the most beautiful way. This is the bronze piece, luscious in its golden reflective high polish.
This exhibition, to me, seems to be an expression of love and freedom. There is such tenderness in the ‘Bird and Nest in the Tree’ and so much sense of freedom, especially in that big bird with his wings outstretched, ready to fly.