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Keith Rice-Jones: Monumental Sculptures

Keith Rice-Jones's life-sized sculptures will animate the Surrey Arts Centre courtyard.

Ceramic sculpture gets big, bold, and beautiful when made by master clay artist Keith Rice-Jones in the exhibit Monumental Sculptures. Five giant pieces ranging from 126 to 192 cm high will be easily discovered standing in the reflecting pool of the Surrey Arts Centre courtyard.

On display are two works from the artist’s geometric series and three works from his organic series. The geometric series show Keith Rice-Jones’s love of shapes and the relationships between forms. His mastery of slab construction is evident in Theorem #2 which has a standard pedestal base on which triangular and circular forms play. Intervention features two intersecting slabs punctuated by spots of red glaze.

The three taller pieces are from the artist’s organic series with strong figurative references that suggest a head and body. Rice-Jones states, “With its sturdy base, Reflection has echoes of Inukshuks while the more attenuated Directional Perspective, standing on its feet, recalls aspects of Cycladic figures.” Annulus Totem is distinguished by holes in each of the stacked elements, celebrating sensual roundness and rhythms. These two groups of sculptures are situated as if in conversation with each other and their contrasting elements: geometric/organic; mechanical/human; intellectual/sensual; and rational/emotional.

A broad range of influences find their way into Keith Rice-Jones’s works. He explains:

I am never sure of the genesis of pieces. Often I don’t recognize what they are about until they are complete and I can see them occupying their space. Perhaps then, the subconscious connections from study, interest in different cultures, architecture, travel, or heroes (the Modernists—Moore, Hepworth, Brancusi, Nicholson, et al.) will come out in unexpected ways wrapped up in my initial design training.

Monumental Sculptures is impressive for its scale and execution in clay. While the geometric pieces are made from slabs of clay formed into shapes, the organics sculptures are made of slabs that are placed into moulds. These moulds allow the artist to create multiples of each shape that can recur in different sculptures. After drying and firing, Rice-Jones checks that the components for a work fit with each other before the assembly of the final sculptures takes place, which is done with a steel armature, concrete, and, finally, epoxy at the joints, similar to the welding on bronze sculptures.

Biography

Keith Rice-Jones was originally trained in England as a woodworker, but turned to clay in the early 1970s. He has an extensive exhibition history in BC, as well as in Britain and Japan. Recently, Rice-Jones received a residency at the Sturt Craft Centre in Australia. Stylized functional vessels comprise the majority of his earlier work, but his current focus is with large sculptural work. His pieces are in numerous collections around the world, and he has also created a number of public artworks. He was honoured with a major retrospective exhibition in 2013, held at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam. Visit his website.

Image credit: Installation image of Monumental Sculptures by Keith Rice-Jones in Surrey Arts Centre courtyard. Photo by Scott Massey.

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