Not Big: Fifteen Years of Small Scale Sculpture

Chant, 1993 brass,8 x 6 x 5 in.

The first time I saw Picasso’s early constructions I was struck by how small they were. These tiny objects of wood, paper, tin and string, so vital to the birth of constructivist sculpture, trick you by their size. There is a sense of monumentality implied through these little forms.

The numerous series from which the works in this exhibition are drawn have been undertaken at intervals, usually when I need a change of pace in the studio. The form that a fresh series takes is most often shaped by a newly discovered material–found bits of forging, harness links, intricate mouldings… one series is built around telephone bells.

Since my first encounter with those tiny Picassos, I’ve learned much about rhythm and concentration, and how the two must blend seamlessly during the making of a sculpture. It takes a very different pacing, combined with a trance-like attention, to feel one’s way into small-scale work. My desire here is to create objects with the concentrated energy that allows them to be viewed from a distance yet also demands your close-up attention. I want them to occupy their own inner realms, coaxing the viewer into a kind of childlike fascination, followed then by a peaceful recognition of many things felt.

Douglas Bentham, October 2009