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Machin Retrospective

Royal Academy Schools, London
July 17 - August 3, 2001

Brochure for Machin retrospective

This page reproduces the brochure publicizing the exhibition. The cover is above.
The British Definitive Stamp (shown at top) features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II
that has been reproduced over 150 billion times, reputedly more times than any other
image in history. It has become an icon of the 20th century.
The Completion of Spring (photo above) by Arnold Machin, purchased by the Tate
in 1947, a lifesize terracotta, fore-runner of many allegorical and portrait figures.

Arnold Machin (1911-1999) is renowned for the creation of the British postage stamp portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, reputed to have been reproduced more times than any other image in history, with 150 billion copies having been printed to date.

The exhibition encompasses his lifetime work, commencing with this childhood, apprenticeship china painting at Minton aged 14, student work at Stoke and Derby Art schools, and the Royal College of Art, London. Then come the war years, as a conscientious objector in the company of other C.O.’s including Michael Tippett, early release assisted by Josiah Wedgwood and a return to modelling and sculpture and the creation of many notable ceramics, now prized collectors’ pieces.

Watercolour painted at age 5 or 6

“I must have been born with a pencil in my hand for I was
drawing from the very earliest days and I used to sit on a little stool made by my
father using his armchair as a work table. The entire family would stint themselves
to provide me with books, pencils, watercolours, scraps of paper and wrapping paper
with which to work.”

He was elected an associate member of the Royal Academy in 1946, appointed Master of Sculpture from 1959 to 1966 and was to become the longest serving member. The exhibition is held in the studios where he taught. From this period are examples of the terracotta figures and pencil studies that were regularly shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions.

Terracotta bust Janice

Janice
Terracotta bust modelled by Arnold Machin in 1970.
He writes in his memoirs, “It has always given me the
utmost pleasure to work in clay - one is building up and creating
from the earth itself.”

The exhibition includes a reconstruction of his working studio with his tools, books, reference and other influential material. Displays show a variety of sculptors’ and potters’ methods including moulding, casting, and bronze pieces.

Taurus the Zodiac Bull

Taurus, the Zodiac Bull
Considered to be Arnold Machin’s most
successful Wedgwood design, incorporated simplified moulding
techniques for production by unskilled potters during the years of World War II.
Gaitskell presented one to Khrushchev on a visit to Moscow in 1956.

He was dedicated to the practical application of art here represented by the earliest works of china painting, his Wedgwood Taurus bull and other ceramics including porcelain figures for Royal Worcester.

Terracotta reclining girl

Terracotta reclining figure of a girl
Arnold Machin modelled from life and also from classical and mythological
themes. Many of these will be assembled for the exhibition.

Tools, dies and essays on loan from Consignia Heritage Services (now the British Postal Museum & Archive) and the Royal Mint show the development of the stamp and coin designs from the first drawings to the modelled relief portraits.

The final gallery shows Machin’s work in architectural and garden design, including fountains, statuary, rustic bowers, ironwork, a BBC film of him in the extensive quarry garden that he created in Staffordshire, and his last project, a minuted detailed dolls house, with furniture, stained glass chapel windows, and trompe l’oeil garden and statuary, created for his granddaughter.

Daphne and Apollo drawing

Daphne and Apollo, 1995
Arnold Machin modelled from life and also from classical and mythological
themes. Many of these will be assembled for the exhibition.

Arnold Machin was born in the year the Titanic was launched, three years before the beginning of the First World War, and lived to the last year of the 20th century. His personal experience and its influence on his work is self-evident, and he never wavered from his profound sense of truth and human values in these times of astonishing material and social change. His portrait of Queen Elizabeth II is one of the the most recognized icons of the 20th century.

More images on page 2.


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