Interview with Hove sculptor Eve Shepherd
01:16 27 July 2011
Eve started her career in art with an informal voluntary apprenticeship with the Sheffield-based sculptor Anthony Bennett. This training led to a position with a commercial sculpting firm in York where she produced realistic life-size figures, working to short deadlines with a team of fellow sculptors.
After several years Eve came to a crossroads in her career. She felt the commercial work had become a purely money-making occupation, with her love of sculpting and her creativity sacrificed and stifled in the process. A two-year break from sculpting followed and with it relocation to Brighton with her partner, a decision she calls a leap of faith.
The rejection of the commercial world meant Eve had to start her career from the beginning, looking to create work that was truly her own. One of the first sculptures after drawing this line in the sand was Broken, a cast bronze of a kneeling shackled minotaur with head bowed, perhaps a commentary on her feelings towards her former work.
Today she enjoys being by the sea in a city that is tolerant, fun and less restrictive than the other cities she has lived in. Eve also loves the contrast of liberal Brighton with the neighbouring very British countryside. Does Sussex inspire her? Yes, mainly the people with their can do attitude and the ability to think outside the box.
On relocation Eve obtained space at the Red Herring Studios in Hove which remains the base for her output. This industrial building is softened by the community atmosphere created by the different artists working within. The atrium of her studio has floor to ceiling shelves storing models, moulds and materials reminiscent of a film prop studio. A room off this is the artists work area, with creations in progress and numerous points of reference, books and music arranged around the room.
On one surface is a maquette (a small-scale preliminary model) of Henry Allingham seated in a wheelchair holding a poppy wreath on his lap before an arrangement of four flags. Allingham was the last surviving British Serviceman to have volunteered for active duty in the First World War. Eve felt he was a fitting symbol for those who fought in the war and survived. She wanted to create a memorial to the brave servicemen and servicewomen who continued to live with the torment of the Great War in their hearts and memories, rather than for those who had fallen. Eve has actively sought a commission to make this maquette into its intended large-scale version, but interested parties always fall short when it comes to planning permission or funding. Eve jokes I will probably be sculpting it when Im his age, although her original intention was for it to be a completed work unveiled on 14 June 2014, the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War.
Another ongoing project that is permanently in the background is the commission for a one-and-a-half times life-size sculpture of Stephen Hawking for the grounds of Cambridge University. Eve needs to feel an underlying personal interest to accept commission work. These sculptures are portrayed with accuracy of anatomy and scale and described by Eve as her technical and academic pieces. It is not surprising, therefore, that Eve is an Associate Member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors and a Member of the Society of Portrait Sculptors.
Two years ago Eve obtained a kiln and has been exploring the capabilities of a new medium by creating fired clay sculptures. This facet of her oeuvre is spontaneous and experimental. Often with Eves fingerprints still evident, these sculptures show a fluid, unshackled approach and highlight the influence of the Italian Renaissance, a period that the artist admires. Eve loves the psychology and story behind each sculpture, often giving the human form zoomorphic attributes or animals anthropomorphic characteristics. A recent series of work was specifically based around Samuel Taylor Coleridges The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, however much of her work could easily illustrate the books of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis or Hans Christian Andersen.
Eves work always offers a subtext with deeper connotations and emotive honesty. Unusually, she embraces two different styles of production and finish and, by allowing both styles to inform one another, creates sincere and soulful works of art. Her refined academic work is often a commentary on social status and perception, running in unison with the more immediate fired clay sculptures. This work in fired clay arguably portrays the artists voice with greater impact, often with darker undertones that are challenging for the onlooker, but always showing incredible mastery.
If you would like to meet the sculptor and see more of her work, Eve will be exhibiting at the Brighton Art Fair between the 22nd and 25th September.