Sculptor Carol Peace on her life-affirming bronzes and creating new work for the new homes at One Tower Bridge

 
Laura Latham
A Carol Peace sculpture on a roof terrace at One Tower Bridge

She might be one of Britain’s most talented sculptors, but Carol Peace prefers to avoid the limelight and let the work speak for itself.

While artists such as Banksy and Damien Hirst appear regularly in the headlines, sculptor Carol Peace seems happy to let her international reputation evolve quietly. “I do have my fans,” she laughs, “but it still surprises me when people ask if I’m Carol Peace, the sculptor.”

In the 25 years since she graduated from Winchester School of Art, the quality and emotional depth of Peace’s work has attracted private and corporate buyers from Miami to Hong Kong. Her pieces range from the small and intimate to large-scale works for sculpture parks and public spaces.


A Peace sculpture in the entrance hall

Based in Bristol, where her studio overlooks the River Avon, Peace is best known for her ‘Block Figures’, bronzes of people in various life-affirming poses, reaching for the sky in exuberance, holding a child close, or simply sitting with a contemplative air. “My pieces are about being human, being alive, death, happiness and celebrating how amazing it all is.”

Peace’s sculptures can be seen at exhibitions and fairs, such as the London Art Fair and this month’s Sculpt at Kew, in Kew Gardens, as well as one-off events such as the 2013 showing of her work, ‘Possibly’, at Glyndebourne. Permanent installations include a piece called ‘Precious’, at Portishead, Somerset, and a 3.5-metre tall figure of a dancer at Broomhill sculpture garden, Devon.

Much of her work ends up in the gardens of expensive houses, with large, stand-alone bronzes, such as ‘Bird Bath’ or ‘Armour Girl’, costing in excess of £20,000. But Peace stresses that she aims to make a number of her works affordable.

“I have sculpture in brass resin that is cheaper and some pieces priced at under £500. A boy even saved up his pocket money to buy one of my works. Art shouldn’t just be for the elite.”

“My pieces are about being human, being alive, death, happiness and celebrating how amazing it all is.”

Peace works in bronze, first drawing her subject then modelling it in clay before casting the final product from a mould. Larger works can take up to 14 weeks to produce but Peace prefers to work at her own pace, rather than to a commission.

“As an artist, I want to develop my own thing, I want to go on a journey and not know where I’m heading.”


Carol Peace

Peace also often incorporates plants and animals in her work and says she’s inspired by humanity’s relationship with nature. “I want to encourage people to think, we’ve taken a lot from nature and maybe we need to give a bit back.”

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She cites as examples her piece titled ‘Petal’, a female figure on a structure that resembles both a flower and globe, “which is about nature needing an armour” and ‘Wilt’, “a flower blooming, then negativity makes it wilt”.

In a more unusual request, London developer Berkeley asked Peace to supply 37 of her works for display in its flagship, £14m-penthouse at One Tower Bridge. The sculptures were positioned in key locations throughout the interior and on the roof terrace, which overlooks the Thames and Tower Bridge.

“It was lovely to show my work in such a gorgeous setting with a view, rather than a small, dull exhibition space,” says Peace. “I like the sense of calm the pieces bring to a busy environment. They suggest a note of nature in a hectic world.”

Carol Peace will be exhibiting at Sculpt at Kew, Kew Gardens, 18 September to 15 October. Visit carolpeace.com

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