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Bernard Meadows

Bernard Meadows (1915 - 2005) was a modernist sculptor who studied at Norwich School of Art from 1934 to 1936 and worked as an assistant to Henry Moore from 1936 to 1940 while training at the Royal College of Art in London. Whilst serving in the RAF during World War II, Meadows spent time in the Cocos Islands, where the greatest natural hazard was a variety of gigantic crabs, which fascinated Meadows and whose forms he later adapted to his sculpture. He found in crabs and later, birds, a way of escaping the influence of Moore. Meadows explained that his work was ‘all about the human condition. The crabs, and the birds, and the armed figures, the pointing figures, are all about fear... perhaps not fear, its vulnerability’. Meadows' early works are simplified bronze forms, left untouched after casting to emphasise their 'unrefined' character, reminiscent of eroded, patinated pieces of jetsam picked up on a tideway. Works from later periods are, by contrast, highly polished and chased. Meadows' sculptures are often inspired by natural forms, reinterpreted with a touch of eroticism or fantasy, in the manner of Lynn Chadwick. His works evolve freely from figuration to an Abstract-Expressionistic interpretation of his favourite themes. The basic motifs of Meadows' figurative-imaginative work take second place to their successive reinterpretations. While not abstract in the truest sense, the works seek to express the essence of their subject: the crab is not recognisable as such but is clearly equipped with pincers, the cockerel is a tangle of talons and spurs, and the bird expresses the spirit of flight.

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