John Milne's exhibition at the Marjorie Parr Gallery, King Road, Chelsea 1972
signed JEM, titled, dated 1969 and numbered 2/9 (on the underside of the base)
height: 37cm.; 14½in.
width: 10cm.; 4in.
Conceived in 1969, the present work is number 2 from the edition of 9.
J.P. Hodin, John Milne: Sculptor. Life and Works, London, 1977, no.20, another cast illustrated;
Lynette Forsdyke-Crofts, Reflection of a Sculptor. The Art and Life of John Milne, St Ives 1998, illus., p.11;
Peter Davies, The Sculpture of John Milne, Belgrave Gallery 2000, p.77
Milne wrote: “I often cast works with more than one type of finish in order to be absolutely sure that the final result is the most perfect that I can obtain.” The late 1960s and early 1970s represent a productive high point in Milne's career. Trio is a slim, pierced upright composition from this time showing the abiding influence of the early carvings based on torsos or heads, whilst hinting at Brancusi's three-in-one totemic arrangements. Notch-like forms punctuate a columnar form base, midriff and apex. The sculpture has a flowing planarity which ascends in a rectilinear, rather than overtly curved or spiralling manner. Derived from a plaster prototype, Trio reveals carved, modelled and even constructed processes, the final preparatory plaster no doubt reflecting the hand of all three. The middle of three intrusions completely pierces the form in a Hepworthian mode, adding the complexity of an internal dimension. P.D.
'Study for Trio I', Crayon & Watercolour, 13 x 7 ins (Private Collection)
J.P. Hodin, John Milne, exh. cat. Marjorie Parr Gallery 1974
J.P. Hodin, John Milne: Sculptor, London 1977
Lynette Fosdyke-Crofts, Reflections of a Sculptor, The Art and Life of John Milne, St Ives 1998
Peter Davies, The Sculpture of John Milne, London 2000 ISBN: 0906647045
Born in Eccles, Lancashire, in 1931 Milne studied electrical engineering at Salford Royal Technical College in 1945, then transferred to the art school at the College, specialising in sculpture, until 1951. In the following year he attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, in Paris. For two years he was then a pupil of the sculptor Barbara Hepworth and her assistant, along with amongst others, the sculptor Denis Mitchell. Although some of Hepworth’s assistants later moved away from her style, Milne’s work continued to bear some relation to it. In 1956, he purchased Trewyn House, a large property in St Ives, next to Barbara Hepworth's studio (her studio had once been an outbuilding of his house), which provided him with studio space and a view to the sea below.
Milne from the early 1960s visited Greece regularly, an influence which showed itself in works such as Gnathos, owned by the Tate Gallery. The artist wrote: ‘I often cast works with more than one type of finish in order to be absolutely sure that the final result is the most perfect that I can obtain. I consider the polished bronze of Gnathos as the ultimate fulfilment of my original idea. The Greek word “Gnathos” means “jaw” or “jawbone” which describes my feeling of “biting” or “getting ones teeth into” something, be that something my life or my work—this was the emotion of the sculpture. Gnathos was a complete change of direction in my work at that point (1960). I have since carried out many other sculptures and reliefs which continue this pincer-like feeling amongst which are Totemic II and the relief Icarus.’
One-man exhibitions included several at Marjorie Parr Gallery (1969 & 1974), Lad Lane Gallery, Dublin, and a retrospective at the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, in 1971. His reputation grew and his work was collected and exhibited extensively in the UK and abroad; exhibitions were held in Vancouver in 1974 and, jointly with Denis Mitchell and Enzo Plazzotta, in Saudi Arabia in 1976; several Milne exhibitions were also mounted in the USA.
He continued to live and work in St Ives until his untimely death in 1978 at the age of 47 when he was preparing for a major US exhibition. The Belgrave Gallery exhibition in 2000 marked the publication of Peter Davies’s 'The Sculpture of John Milne'.
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John Milne photographed by Ida Kar in 1961