One of Britain’s leading contemporary sculptors, Simon Gudgeon has a signature smooth style that marvelously concentrates spirit and nature. His minimalist, semi-abstract forms depict both movement and emotion of a moment captured with a visual harmony that is unmistakably his own.
Born in Yorkshire in 1958, Gudgeon ‘lived deep in the countryside on the family farm, learning the essential arts of observation, evaluation and interpretation of how animals and birds behave, both with each other and man’. After studying law at Reading University, he practiced as a solicitor, starting painting only in his thirties and first exhibiting at London’s Battersea Exhibition Centre in 1992. An impulse purchase of artist’s clay at the age of 40 led into his new career as a sculptor, responding to what lay closest to his heart: the natural world.
Since then Gudgeon has attained worldwide recognition, with exhibitions in London, New York, San Diego, Paris and the Netherlands. His works are featured in important private collections abroad and in the United Kingdom, including those of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of Bedford and The Duke of Northumberland. In addition, he has work in the permanent collection of several prominent art museums in the USA, including America’s National Museum of Wildlife Art and the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.
Gudgeon’s sculpture park, ‘Sculpture by the Lakes’ at Pallington in Dorset, provides a tranquil backdrop for his monumental finished pieces and houses convenient studio workshops. Hinting at how the creative process unfolds for him, he explains, ‘Most sculptures don’t start out as a conscious thought, with all the aspects of form and meaning carefully considered. What happens is that an idea enters my mind – be it a shape, a movement or an emotion – and I simply want to convey it. I must convey it! Ideas come from a combination of observations, thoughts, beliefs and the profound experiences of one’s life.’
Gudgeon sculpts primarily in bronze, and occasionally in marble, granite, glass or stainless steel. For the modeling of the form, he uses a number of different materials, depending on the nature and scale of the subject – terracotta clay, oil-based Chavant clay, epoxy resin or foam. Working directly from nature and live subjects, he crafts sculptures that share an elemental kinship of identity with all living things. He is particularly known for his sculptures of birds in flight, often with ingeniously engineered bases that seem to launch them into the air rather than anchor them to the ground.