Telfer Stokes’ second solo show at North House Gallery shows an increased confidence, bravado even, in the possibilites of his wall pieces made from marine and industrial scrap metal. This raw material is becoming scarcer and also heavier, but once he has decided on the combination and layering of pieces and welded them together, he can remove material from the back to make the works light enough to hang. Some are dramatically large and designed to fit in or around corners; others are more compact and play with juxtapositions of colour and surprising ready-made elements, which, though once abandoned, are given a whole new life. The catalogue with an introduction by Luke Elwes is available (£10) by post or the e-catalogue on request.
Born in St Ives in 1940, Telfer Stokes grew up surrounded by the abstract work of his parents and their artist friends, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo, and paintings by Alfred Wallis. After the Slade, a Fellowship to Brooklyn Museum and showing at the Serpentine, he spent 30 years making and publishing books for his imprint Weproductions. Moving to East Anglia to care for his mother, Margaret Mellis, he returned to sculpture, showing in the Kettles Yard Open in 2008. Prompted, for space reasons, to create wall pieces for his exhibition at North House Gallery in 2010, he started a body of work which in ambition goes beyond the famous driftwood assemblages of his mother and the paper collages of his step-father Francis Davison, whose work is celebrated in the monograph by Andrew Lambirth launched at this exhibition (£25).
The process of making my objects relies on a stock of material that I have to hand. I recognise through repeatedly putting bits & pieces of metal together that I have built in a natural procedure & way of dealing with things. This is fine but I still want to be inspired and I still want to go one step further every time. I have come across impossibly bulky and heavy bits of ex marine or ex industrial material. This has been all there is to choose from. So the challenge has become the retention of as much of that crudity that the material has on display while at the same time digging out its weight and bringing out of it a certain finesse that is in there somewhere. The continuity of my work comes not from the pieces that I produce but a steady daily practice. The introduction of a new component ("the surprise") can change the direction and emphasis of a work in progress, and I work on the assumption that I am going to take each work into an unpredictable place by the end while at the same time retaining directness & simplicity. Telfer Stokes, 2013
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These images are a selection of the works available at the Gallery Please contact the gallery for further information