Art, Identity, Migration
As an intern at Ben Uri, I was lucky enough to be invited along to the private viewing of the current memorial exhibition – Brian Taylor RBS 1935-2013 ‘A Consistent Vision’ (02nd October – 13th October 2013). It was a glamorous and moving affair. As I crossed the road to reach Ben Uri, my eye was drawn to the gallery window, bright and beaming in contrast to the surrounding darkness. Inside, visitors were milling around, taking in the sculptures. One cannot miss Taylor’s sculptures, they appear lifelike, full-sized and each with such visual expression and a real sense of the character of the sitter or animal portrayed.
In Lillie Lurcher Rolling, 2013, a dog writhes around, paws flailing widely in the air, nose pointing up towards the sky and with its hip at an inverted right angle – presumably it is desperately trying to scratch its back against the floor. Meanwhile, The Dance of Lily Pier, c.1968-71, shows an anguished human figure, mouth pulled wide open, seemingly in horror, anger, or perhaps even both. The figure’s right arm grips tightly onto the foot of the raised, right leg, which would be a comical pose were it not for the agony of the accompanying facial expression. It is this discord and sense of movement which give Taylor’s sculptures their edge, capturing the complexity of emotion and need.
Brian Taylor was educated at Epsom School of Art, as well as The Slade, where one of his contemporaries was the architect Sir Richard Rogers, and where he was taught by the renowned sculptor, Henry Moore, who praised Taylor’s independent vision. At the private viewing of the exhibition, David Glasser gave a speech celebrating Taylor’s talent and the moving nature of his sculptures of his family, including one of Taylor’s wife, Michele Franklin, who was heavily pregnant at the time – Standing Figure of Michele Pregnant, 1988. However, Glasser also lamented the fact that Brian’s work was not more widely known and exhibited during his own lifetime. Although perhaps this was in keeping with Taylor’s reserved character.
Though a small exhibition, the gallery is packed with sculptures, sketches, life drawings, paintings and busts by Taylor and is truly worth a visit. Michele Franklin, the artist’s wife, will be giving daily tours of the exhibition (bar Sunday) between 12 and 1pm.