Anthony Scott

Work

New Work for 2017 – 2018

Bio

Education

1988–1991 B.A. Hons. (1st Class) University of Ulster, Belfast 1991–1993 M.A. Ceramics, Cardiff, C.I.H.E.

Selected Exhibitions

2018 Beaux Arts, London, London Art Fair Beaux Arts, London, Summer Exhibition Beaux Arts, LAPADA Art Fair 2017 Beaux Arts, London, London Art Fair Beaux Arts, London, Summer Exhibition 2016 BADA Art Fair Beaux Arts, Bath, Solo 2015 Beaux Arts, London, Solo 2014-2015 Beaux Arts, London 2005, 07, 09, 11 Beaux Arts, Bath, Solo Exhibition 2008-2011 20/21 British Art Fair, Royal College of Arts 2007-2011 Art London, Chelsea London Art Fair, Islington 2003-2011 Royal Ulster Academy, Ireland 2002-2011 RHA Annual Exhibition, Ely Place, Dublin 2006 Beaux Arts, Bath, 25 Year Anniversary Exhibition 2004 John Martin Gallery, Mayfair, London, Mixed Exhibition 2007 Solomon Gallery, Christmas Exhibition, Powerscourt, Dublin 2001 Beaux Arts, Bath, New Sculpture Exhibition R.H.A. Annual Exhibition, Ely Place, Dublin Lavitt Gallery, Cork 2 Person Exhibition, Solomon Gallery, Powerscourt, Dublin 2000 R.H.A. Annual Exhibition, Ely Place, Dublin R.U.A. Annual Exhibition, Ulster Museum, Belfast Sladmore Contemporary, Bruton Place, London Beaux Arts, Bath, New British Sculpture Exhibition Case Exhibition, The Lavitt Gallery, Cork Solomon Gallery, Christmas Exhibition, Powerscourt, Dublin 1999 Solomon Gallery, Powerscourt, Dublin Beaux Arts, Bath, Sculptors of Fame and Promise R.U.A. Annual Exhibition, Ulster Museum, Belfast 1996 Blackheath Gallery, Blackheath, London Leading Irish Artists, Lavitt Gallery, Cork Born Free, Fitch’s Ark, Little Venice, London 1995 Blackheath Gallery, Blackheath, London 1994/5 Crafts, A New Generation, Arts Council Touring Exhibition, N. Ireland

Awards

1997 Craft Council of Ireland Purchase Award at Royal Dublin Society

Collections

  • The Arts Council of Northern Ireland
  • Basil Blackshaw
  • Brian Keenan
  • Lord and Lady Glentoran
  • The Barbican Centre, London
  • Alexis Fitzgerald
  • Sean O’Criadan/Peter Lamb, Dublin
  • The Ark, Temple Bar, Dublin
  • Crafts Council, Ireland
  • Dame Judi Dench
  • Daniel Day Lewis
  • Sir Tony O’Reilly
  • Barry McGuigan
  • Rhiannon Craft Design Centre
Essays
Dr Riann Coulter 2015

As a child, visiting relatives in Belmullet, County Mayo, I was told that Tír na nÓg – the Land of Youth where the mythic warrior poet, Oisín, lived for 300 hundred years – could be seen off the coast.  Even then, I realised that if you stared out into the grey mists of the Atlantic for too long you would see all sorts of things. But these reported sightings did bring home the degree to which Irish mythology was alive in that community on the western seaboard. Geographical isolation, the survival of a robust oral culture, a strong sense of belonging and a close connection to the land and the sea, created a context in which mythic figures including Oisín, Connla and Étaín were still relevant.

Oisín plays a central role in Anthony Scott’s new exhibition at Beaux Arts and is depicted twice on horseback. In the story Oisín falls in love with Niamh of the Golden Hair, daughter of Manannán mac Lir, god of the sea. He follows her to Tír na nÓg where they live happily for a period. After three years, Oisín becomes homesick and wants to visit Ireland again. Niamh lends him her magical horse but warns him not to touch the ground. Arriving on the West Coast, Oisín soon realises that three centuries have passed. His family and friends are long gone and the Irish are a much diminished race. Scott depicts two key points in the story: the moment when Oisín turns back to help a group of men struggling to move a large stone, and his subsequent fatal fall from his horse. As soon as Oisín touches the ground, the spell of Tír na nÓg is broken and time catches up with him. In some versions of the story, St. Patrick converts Oisín before he dies thus signalling Christianity’s victory over the old Gaelic gods.

Scott portrays one of these gods in his image of Nuada on horseback. Nuada was the first King of the Tuatha dé Danann, a divine race thought to represent the deities of pre-Christian Ireland. He was forced to give up his position after losing an arm in battle because tradition demanded that the leader must be physically perfect. Nuada solves this problem by having a silver arm made. Thus, this tale could be seen as an allegory for the transformative power of art. Scott’s sculpture, which depicts Nuada rejoicing just as he is restored to his position, is reminiscent of Mario Marini’s equestrian sculptures including The Pilgrim (1939) and his iconic work The Angel of the City (1948) from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice.  Scott has acknowledged the influence of this Italian sculptor, who reimagined the traditional equestrian portrait in a modernist language.

Another significant precursor is Elizabeth Frink whose sculptures of horses, animals and figures exhibit a kinship with Scott’s work. The key themes of Frink’s oeuvre have been described as ‘the nature of Man; the ‘‘horseness’’ of horses; and the divine in human form’.[i]  These preoccupations are shared by Scott. Like his horses, Frink’s sturdy War Horse (1991) and the elegant Black Horse (1978) embody something essential about the nature of the animal and exhibit a deep appreciation and understanding of them.

An affinity with Frink’s figures, such as Dorset Martyr (1985/6), can also be discerned in Scott’s sculpture Connla. His first large scale figurative work, Connla is an imposing male nude who tenderly cradles a young dog. For Scott the work is about a father’s ultimately futile attempt to save his son. In order to try to protect his son from the goddess Danu, Connla asks the Druid Conaire to hide him. Connla means warrior hound, and in Scott’s version, Conaire turns the boy into a dog.  Standing larger than life, Connla conveys a powerful sense of presence. Like the horses that Scott so successfully imbues with the impression of vitality, this figure seems more nature than art: less a sculpture cast from a mould than a living figure bewitched into bronze. Connla’s determined brow owes something to the artist’s own features and Scott’s recent experiences of becoming a father also resonate with the theme of this work.

Trained as a ceramist, Scott sculpted in clay before turning to bronze to accommodate larger and more durable work.  The influence of his training may be discerned in both his methods and the careful attention he pays to the texture and patina of this work. Although, some of the larger sculptures including Connla were created in plaster before being cast, Scott often works in wax which, like clay, is soft and malleable. His efforts to achieve the correct patina can be laborious, but with the help of skilled craftspeople at Cast, his foundry in Dublin, Scott has created a rich repertoire of patinas which he selects depending on the atmosphere and feeling of the work. Thus Connla is rendered in a textured lichen green, the foal Étaín has a smooth coat in mottled hues of fawn and oatmeal and other works are finished in rich red browns or steel blue.

The figure of Étaín is sometimes known by the epithet Echraide (horse rider) suggesting links with horse deities and figures such as the Welsh Rhiannon. In the myth, Midir of the Tuatha Dé Danann falls in love with Étaín. When he marries her, his rejected first wife, Fúamnach, becomes jealous and casts a series of spells which eventually transform Étaín into a butterfly. In this bewitched form Étaín has many adventures before being reborn several centuries later. Scott has interpreted her at the moment of rebirth as ‘a foal finding her feet for the first time, that first lung full of air’.[ii]  He goes on to explain that ‘It comes from experiencing a foal’s birth on my uncle’s farm when I was very young, it seemed to connect for me with the characters narrative arc’.[iii]  Coincidently, étain is also the French word for tin or pewter and, in the past, it was tin that was mixed with copper to create bronze.

Growing up in a rural community, Scott was surrounded by the horses, dogs and bulls that feature in his work. He recalls walking to school across the fields and his appreciation for the animals he encountered on that commute, both wild and domestic, is expressed in his sculptures. There is something totemic about these animals. It is as if the mythical figures they are named after are reborn – like Étaín – through kinship with the animal. Scott’s fascination with Irish mythology was fostered by the discovery of Thomas Kinsella’s The Tain, his 1969 translation of the Irish Epic, Tain Bo Cuailng. Accompanied by Louis le Brocquy’s brush drawings which enrich the text rather than illustrating it, Kinsella’s translation of The Tain tells the stories of the Ulster Cycle which centre on the Cattle Raid of Cooley and the exploits of the hero Cúchulainn – the Hound of Ulster. Throughout The Tain the division between humans and animals is blurred, for instance The Morrigan, whom Scott has used as a subject in the past, is both supernatural woman and a crow whose foreboding presence brings death and destruction.

Clearly, Irish mythology is central to Scott’s work but, unlike many of his artistic predecessors, including George Russell (AE) and Harry Clarke, who imagined the mythic characters as ethereal and insubstantial, Scott’s sculptures are rooted and weighty. They convey a sense of presence – of occupying space – that makes them feel real, not only as portraits but also as objects occupying our world. This sense of physical substance and psychological presence, transforms Scott’s sculptures from inanimate mass to animated form. Connla, Oisín and Nuada become monuments to beings that once lived, rather than purely artistic imaginings of myth.

[i] Obituary, The Times, April, 1993 [ii] Anthony Scott, email to the author, 23/2/2015 [iii] Ibid

Terry Sweeney 2013

In this body of work, Anthony Scott has conferred a measured composure on the clangorous voices and entangled narratives that constitute Celtic mythology. That is not to say he has rationalised the myths. Reason has no bearing on myth because myth of itself opens our mind to mystery. The sagas and deeds of our ancestors are always with us and so he distils their essence and creates opportunity for observers of his work to create and explore their own enriching layer of narrative.

According to the ancient writers, the Celtic peoples of Europe spoke in riddles, were economic with words and had a tendency to hint and suggest, leaving scope for personal understanding and interpretation. To some extent, Scott carries on this tradition, in naming his sculptures with titles such as Bran, Tadhg and Donn, in the full knowledge that many of the characters to which they may refer are instantly transmutable. They are each at once, human, divine, animal, spirit, male, female depending on which story, moment or event one might choose to recount. The poet, WB Yeats states, in his preface to Lady Gregory’s translated Complete Irish Mythology:

“They are hardly so much individual men as portions of universal nature, like the clouds that shape themselves and reshape themselves momentarily….”

Germane to this ambiguity and potential for metamorphosis is the persistent human struggle and anxiety over life, death and resurrection. The realities of life and death in the distant past were concentrated on the hunt, for man’s need to survive and his reliance on and respect for animals as food, as agents in procuring food and as trusted supporters and companions in the quest to survive on earth and in the afterlife. Reflective of this feature of mythology, animals feature strongly in Anthony Scott’s oeuvre and he has observed them closely – predominantly the horse, dog and bull, in his adopted landscape of County Sligo.

Donn stands stout and firm, a solid brooding presence in this exhibition. He is the perfect demonstration of Scott’s craft and skill in understanding how to mould and represent fat, flesh, bone and sinew in malleable substances such as plaster, clay and wax. Volume and mass are here formed into a unified, integrated and nuanced interplay of undulating contours and planes. Soft as a Rodin or a sculpted female flank by Maillol, its modulated and languid body belies the thrusting and urgent nature of the bull.

In addition, the qualities of the finished bronze have been exploited wonderfully to allow light to reveal every ridge and hollow. The title Donn itself is invested with a multiplicity of potential meaning. Donn in Gaelic is associated with dark, so this could represent the Brown Bull of Cooley. It could also have connotations of brute strength, seniority, the repository of great wisdom and knowledge. In certain Celtic tales, Donn is the Lord of the Dead and is also conversely reputed to be the progenitor of the Irish race.

Scott leaves us to choose or lose such references or indeed to simply savour its appearance in the round and enjoy the sensual experience of its splendid gravitas. Gravitas of a different kind can be used to describe Tadgh and Laoighaire. The titles for these sculptures refer perhaps to the names of Celtic myological royalty and in a physical sense, each of these sculptures is compactly arranged in a solid, truncated cuboid form of the Bullmastiff. Each has a short muzzle, enfolding ears and a multitude of deep folds softly framing the eyes thereby conveying an aura of pensive sagacity. Laoighaire appears the older and crustier incarnation in contrast to the seated Tagdh’s youthful, sleek rotundity.

Bran, the loyal and trusted hunting hound-companion to Finn Mac Cumhail (Finn McCool) has assumed the bronze form of a lean greyhound in this exhibition. The image of the greyhound or its ancestor has been seen in the many wall paintings on ancient Egyptian tombs and this breed has long been lauded by hunters for its agility and speed. Scott’s Bran is the very essence of elegance of line and shape reflecting a form and contour aerodynamically designed to cut through space. He is deep-chested with a tapering torso which serves to emphasise a latent strength in the expanse of the upper hind legs. These are in turn rhythmically counterbalanced by a pendulous dipping and upward curl on the low slung tail. Bran is poised on fine legs and paws facing forward. A slender, robust neck supports a slightly tilted, delicately articulated head. Attention to detail in the eyes and ears indicates an acute intelligence and heightened visual and aural sensitivity.

Anthony Scott has observed and experimented many times with the form of the horse in particular. In this show he brings to our sensibilities the playful, long legged, gawky forms of young foals, as in Etain, in the process of testing the balance and angularity of their new bodies in space. He also returns with some gusto to a rounder bodied mare with a new and vibrant surface colour in Red Horse. The sculpture of the man and rider has been given the title Nuada. In Celtic mythology, Nuada, whose left arm had been severed in battle, was a god and a leader of the Tuatha de Dannan. In order to restore his power he had it replaced with a crafted silver arm. In this sculpture, the spare and lean body of the god- warrior Nuada sits upright and stoically astride his horse. Both are battle scarred. However the rider’s head is cast downwards in shadow and there is an overall sense of vulnerability and defeat in his flaccid flesh and limp arms steadied as they rest on generous horse rump. He is damaged, off balance, somnambulistic and in spite of his prosthetic silver arm he has doubted his own judgment and relinquished responsibility..

In contrast to the emasculated god-warrior the mare on which he sits is a full bodied, rounded, protective support for the enfeebled body of the rider. The four hooves are firmly and evenly planted, the broad hind quarters and muscular shoulders support the neck, head and face that is gently tilted as if the animal rather than the warrior is protectively perceptive to impending danger. Nuada in legend may have lost his sense of balance and ultimately his power, however the strength of this sculpture is that it possesses its own equilibrium through the interdependency of contrasts. In this, as in other sculptures in this exhibition, Scott goes beyond the narrative towards spatial integrity of pure form and an instant, direct communication with the mind and the senses.

Terry Sweeney, August 2013

Exhibitions
16 April - 16 May 2015
Horse

3 May – 31 May 2014

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