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A striking new addition to The Base

A stunning statue takes it's new permanent place in front of The Base building...

We are thrilled to introduce 'Bond' by the late Alan Thornhill (1921 - 2020) which was kindly donated to The Base by his family and cast in bronze with funds from Greenham Trust.

Best known as the creator of the Putney Sculpture Trail, the largest outdoor collection of work by one artist in London, Alan Thornhill was a British artist and sculptor whose long association with clay developed from pottery into sculpture.

Words written by his daughter, Anna Thornhill:

'Born in London in 1921, Alan grew up in Sussex and was educated at Radley College and Oxford University where he read history. He took part in the D-Day landings and later became a conscientious objector. Having had Reichian therapy in Norway after the war he decided to work with his hands and enrolled at Camberwell Art School where he began his lifelong exploration of clay. He married painter Sheila Denning and set up Hawkley Pottery near Stroud in the 1950's.

Growing tired of the repetitive nature of pottery, Alan began to make figurative sculptures in clay, exploring the theme of communication. On moving to London in 1959 he set up a studio in Putney which he maintained until his death.

Alan pioneered a radical and improvisatory approach to claywork which involved dispensing with an internal armature and allowing content to emerge from his unconscious. Abstract pieces of the 1960’s developed into large groups of figures. Pacifism, Jungian psychology, and world conflicts were themes which emerged organically in his work. Alan also made a large number of portrait heads from life including of Tom Stoppard, Sir Colin Davis, A S Neill, Basil Bunting and Enoch Powell.

Alan taught sculpture at Morley College for 17 years and subsequently was a trustee and then teacher at the Frink School of Figurative Sculpture in Staffordshire founded by Rosemary Barnett.

In later life Alan painted prolifically, creating self portraits, still lives and landscapes. He moved from London to Stroud in 1994 with his partner Kate Shuckburgh and in 2012 had a major retrospective at Stroud’s Museum in the Park.'

Read his Guardian obituary here

Artist's Statement (2013)

My sculptures are concerned with the ordinary but diverse human predicament and stand, I hope, as a reminder of our shared humanity. They are improvised rather than pre-conceived and are built with randomly pre-formed non-representational shapes made in firmed-up coarsely textured clay, which is the material I have always loved to work with. The process is one of interplay with the material in which the intervention of the unconscious with its ambiguities and improbabilities is obediently heeded. Deliberately devoid of ‘initial idea’ my work is propelled by the process of improvisation. It evolves as an act of faith from an abstract into a figurative or at least an organic statement in accord with my general aspiration: to arrive by an uncharted route at images which strike home.

My process is non-conceptual, non-cerebral, not concerned to comment on trends in modern art and has nothing to do with sophisticated technologies. For me, Sculpture is primarily about Mass. A sense of Mass suffused our earliest experiences and the imprint of Mass on our awareness, especially in the context of the human figure is infinitely more telling than the naming of parts. My search is for figurative statements which because massive in quality are sculptural in essence.

My work is a celebration of the search for self-discovery and for a rooted sense of personal autonomy.