Poppy Field’s training in figurative sculpture will enable her to create beautiful public monuments and memorials in bronze
Since the Renaissance, the discourse surrounding Western thought has imbued material objects with the ability to prolong and preserve human memory far beyond an individual’s existence. My aspiration is to contribute to the United Kingdom’s exceptional legacy of figurative memorials and monuments
The Study Abroad Studentship will enable me to complete my training in figurative sculpture at the Florence Academy of Art (FAA). Here students work exclusively from life under natural north light in the tradition of the Old Masters. Drawing classes are based upon the nineteenth-century teachings of Jean-Léon Gérôme at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, while the sculpture curriculum is derived from texts written by Édouard Lantéri, who taught at the National Art Training School in London (later the Royal College of Art) from 1880 to 1917. This final year of study will be an opportunity to bring together everything I have learned by translating, rather than copying, nature in a way that is both artistically beautiful and anatomically accurate.
My Study Abroad Studentship will focus on three sculptures. The first is a three-quarter life-size reclining female figure, the second a life-size seated male torso and the third a life-size standing female figure. In addition, I will continue to work on portraits as well as take evening classes in anatomy, ecorché sculpture and life drawing. As a graduate of the advanced sculpture programme, I look forward to working in the round across a variety of scales, composing reclining figures, comparing and understanding visual foreshortening, developing internal structures even when not visible, and, perhaps most importantly for the creation of monuments and memorials, learning to cast in bronze.
Bronze, largely rejected in the twentieth century, remains one of most distinguished sculptural mediums. This can be explained by its heritage, almost indestructible quality and formal characteristics.
Memorialising can be a highly contentious field and, historically, monuments have often served to validate particular political, historical, cultural and social perspectives; assigning singular memory and meaning to complex events has the potential to create entirely new sites of conflict. However, I trust that my earlier studies at the Courtauld Institute of Art have equipped me to make critical judgements in relation to heritage, inscription, medium, location, interaction and purpose.
I firmly believe in the continuing significance of bronze figurative sculpture for public works. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to further my technical ability so that I might one day realise my ambition of collaborating with public bodies in the creation of monuments and memorials.