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FOREWARD TO DAVID CREGEEN: HIS WORK

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Water King- polychrome bronze. 1988

David Cregeen, is British, a member of an artistic and academic family. He was educated in England, Canada and Scotland and went on to study and train first in Edinburgh, that ‘modern Athens and city of Adam Smith and David Hume’ and then in Florence, the power-house of the Renaissance, center of Humanism and home to the great artists of that time. 

This early training in Edinburgh with its historic links to the continent, together with his subsequent immersion in the Italy of the Renaissance remain a bedrock to his thinking and his work. A century and more ago Scottish artists gravitated to Paris to participate in that remarkable artistic renewal. What had aroused them also drew Cregeen and together with those earlier influences and training forming the component parts of his expression.

 

Music is another influential element for him. He is closely related on his mother’s side to the notable 20th century English composer of sacred music Dr Herbert Howells OM. Gustav Mahler’s three sources of inspiration: Nature, Man and the Spirit are the subjects that drive this sculptor’s work more than a century later.

With this background and later the experience of collaborating with London's leading dance company Ballet Rambert early in his career have remained a lasting influence on his sculpture. Whether in a portrait or a figure, even when apparently still, movement is revealed and together form the component parts of his ‘weltanschauung’ and technique.

The significance of artistic movements in Renaissance Italy to the twentieth century is illustrated in the writing of Jacob Burckhardt who also pointed to the emergence of the ‘individualism’ and its representation in the portraiture of that time. Along with his figural work portraiture forms a major part of Cregeen’s body of work and within that tradition he has created portrait heads from life of some of the leading personalities of our time.

Cregeen’s work lies within the two traditions of 'Expressionism’ and 'Humanism'. Beyond those schools of thought lies his feel for the past found in the ruins and rocks of Turkey. Anatolia became both a home and an inspiration for him. It is an ancient land with a history and richly varied cultural heritage spanning millennia.

DAVID CREGEEN
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The American expatriate Bernard Berenson, the great scholar on Renaissance paintings, regarded Nature as the source of artistic inspiration. For him the background pictorial vistas were as significant as the main subject, the soft distant contours being then as now, Nature’s permanence is both mysterious and substantive. At the heart of the Cregeen sculptures is the sense of the subjects being integral with their surroundings, the mix of mind and matter. This characteristic of his work becomes more particularly explicit as Cregeen responded to the influences, sights and sounds of Anatolia.

That the artist has his studio in Anatolia is a key to the ethos of his work. The Anatolian landscape bears the foot prints and reminders of those many and varied cultures which have passed through, and home to the classical world for thousands of years. Visible from his studio, in the near distance, the grandeur of the Taurus Mountains rises up with its ever-changing light and colour, the same now as then. As in a mirror the awesome rock-hewn setting is reflective of the interaction between man and nature.

Such figures as Rockman,  Water King, The Chosen Maiden and later After Newton Don although conceived and sculpted in his London studio reflect the vision that took him to Anatolia and anticipate his later works created there.

    

Rodin’s observation that ” The Greek artists loved nature so well that their works bathe in it as in their element”.

The part that nature plays in Cregeen’s sculptures can be found almost as a theme, a very component of the sculpture itself.

  

Serban Cantacuzino CBE FSA FRIB Former  Secretary The Royal Fine Arts Commission. United Kingdom

 

From FOREWORD to DAVID CREGEEN HIS WORK (Lois Katz- Administrator to The AMS Foundation for Arts Sciences and Humanities 2018)

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David Cregeen and Dame Jillian Sackler presenting the portrait head of Pope John Paul II to His Holiness at the Vatican 2003. The portrait was undertaken as one of the collection of Faces in History
David Cregeen working on the portrait head of Lady Thatcher undertaken for Faces in History. Sittings took place with the former Prime Minister at her home in London
Davide Cregeen working on the portrait head of Queen Anne of Romania at the home in exile of the King and Queen of Romania in Switzerland
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The sculptor working on his figure of Oberon for the group inspired by Britten's opera A Midsummer Night's Dream
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