Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers to offer selected contents from The Sculpture Park

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Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers to offer selected contents from The Sculpture Park
Eddie, Oscar, Sian and Dennis (dog). Photo: BNPS.

STANSTED MOUNTFICHET.- This spring, Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers presents selected contents from The Sculpture Park, Churt in the Surrey borough of Waverley.

The dedicated auction of modern and contemporary outdoor sculpture runs online from April 26-May 19, with viewing available at The Sculpture Park. The auction offers just a part of the vast collection of thousands of pieces assembled over 20 years by artist, collector and dealer Eddie Powell compromises around 430 lots, with estimates ranging from £200-300 to £350,000-450,000.

“The Sculpture Park is the best business I have ever had,” says entrepreneur Eddie, who moved to Surrey from his native south Wales to study at West Surrey College of Art and Design as a student in the seventies. Since then, he has developed a hardware store into a successful interior design business, specializing in bathroom and kitchenware, as well as ventures in the hotel and leisure industry. His passion for the arts came to fruition when in 1997, when he purchased 10 acres of undeveloped land with a view to realizing his personal masterpiece.

A few years later, he created a magical arboretum and water garden with two miles of pathways and an interior gallery to establish the perfect setting for viewing - and buying outdoor and indoor sculpture. Over the past 20 years, The Sculpture Park has become a popular open-air visitor attraction, a favourite Instagram destination and a successful e-commerce business boasting the largest collection of Modern and Contemporary sculptures in the country.

In his mid 70s, Eddie continues to buy pieces for the park and its 365-day-a-year art exhibition. The proprietor’s eye is the single thread that ties together an incredibly diverse array of living and past artists. However, having handed much of the day to day running of the business over to his daughter, Sian and son, Oscar he is hoping an auction will rationalise his holdings and create space. All the pieces in the auction have been carefully selected by him.

As Eddie remains a proud Welshman, pride of place goes to a dragon that weighs 18.9 tonnes and is fashioned from 152,000 iron horseshoes. It was made by artist and self-taught welder Jim Poolman with the help of a scaffold, a forklift and horseshoes provided by farriers from across Hampshire.

Eddie recalls that he had rejected Poolman’s previous work for not being big enough for the Sculpture Park. He, half-joking, suggested to make a dragon and 12 years later, Jim returned with this piece, titled Final Throes of Dragon Tableaux, that measures 14m long. An icon of park since its completion in 2017, it doubles as a tribute to former Prime Minister Lloyd George who lived on the Bron y De estate in Churt after leaving Downing Street in 1922. It’s the highest-estimated lot in the auction at £350,000-450,000.

The Sculpture Park is primarily focused on the contemporary – and specifically works by up-and-coming names Eddie is keen to support. He still visits art degree shows and exhibitions looking for talent although increasingly he is approached directly by artists looking to display and sell their work. “It’s not a set process” he says. “It is primarily a matter of whether the piece will work in the park. If I think it will enhance the collection, I will accept it.” He estimates around half of the artists are British and half from overseas.

Jonathan Loxley (b.1960), who began his career making stage sets for film and theatre, is a favourite of both Eddie and his clients. He’s best known as the artist David Bowie commissioned to create a sculpture marking his marriage to Iman in 1993. There are several Loxley pieces in the sale including Nexus II, fashioned in zebrano marble on an enamelled aluminium base (estimate £4,500-5,500) and the unique marble Broken Stone (estimate £1,500-2,500).

Among the overseas artists Eddie exclusively represents in the UK is Mexican sculptor Maria Bayardo (b.1963). Maria spent 20 years working in the entertainment industry before completing a master’s degree at Escuela Superior de Artes y Oficios in Toledo aged 43. She has since dedicated her life to art and her work has been widely exhibited. The Park carries many of her works with a monumental pair of stylised bulls in corton steel offered by Sworders at £45,000-55,000.

Among the older items in the sale are two monumental works by British 20th century sculptor Alfred Horace Gerry Gerrard (1899-1998). ‘Joy’, a 7m wide, three-sided Portland stone wall worked with linear and geometric motifs dates from c.1965 and is guided at £270,000-300,000. The 5m wide ‘Dance’ a single-sided wall carved with stylized masks, from the same artist and era, is pitched at £90,000-100,000.

Gerrard, who spent most of his career as Professor of Sculpture at the Slade, is thought to have made them using stone reclaimed from the old Euston train station which was demolished at the time. In 1960 the artist was awarded a silver medal from the Royal Society of British Sculptors for a similar project erected at London’s Abbey Wood Park.

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