Hampstead artist Glynis Owen creates lockdown pandemic sculpture

PUBLISHED: 12:41 08 June 2020 | UPDATED: 10:59 16 June 2020

Journey by Glynis Owen Picture: copywright of the artist

Journey by Glynis Owen Picture: copywright of the artist


Journey came out of weeks of daily carving during lockdown and reflects her feelings about the key workers who have supported the sick

Journey by Glynis Owen Picture: copywright of the artistJourney by Glynis Owen Picture: copywright of the artist

Hampstead sculptor Glynis Owen has taken the time during lockdown to carve her impressions of the pandemic into stone.

She began the sculpture at the start of weeks of self-isolation, and originally planned an abstract artwork. But as time went on, her daily work on the block took an unexpected turn.

“I had breast cancer and radiotherapy last year so on advice from my doctor to be extra careful I started work on this block and I haven’t actually been out,” she says.

“The diagonal saw cuts were originally planned for an abstract piece but while self isolating all these figures crept in.”

Sculptor Glynis Owen Picture: courtesy of the artistSculptor Glynis Owen Picture: courtesy of the artist

Titled Journey the piece is her reflection after watching the pandemic unfold on the news.

“It came out of that feeling of what was going on in hospitals and the amazing key workers, but I didn’t want it to be little figures in nurses uniform. It came out like medieval carving. The recovering figures, supported and assisted, climb in an upwards direction. The figures falling in a downwards direction are caught and supported by NHS or other workers. At the top is a single head a kind of God-like figure looking down on them.”

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Made from the same Ancaster stone used in much of Lincoln Cathedral, Journey is reminscent of a church capital and befits the almost Biblical nature of the pandemic.

Glynis Owen with her sculpture journeyGlynis Owen with her sculpture journey

“It was such a strong shocking thing to be suddenly faced with a pandemic we didn’t think would ever happen, but it’s remarkable, when you read accounts of earlier times and plagues, there are the same fears of not knowing what it is and how you avoid it.”

A member of the Royal Society of Sculptors and a former assistant to sculptor Lynn Chadwick, Owen usually works in stone, glass, or bronze in her Pilgrim’s Lane studio, finding what she calls “the fluid line between figurative and abstract art” in pared down imagery of the human form.

Past work has ranged from large scale commissions for public spaces to designing awards.

“My figures are usually more abstract,” she says. “I don’t normally work in such detail but with Journey I could go on carving forever adding some little bit to perfect it.

“Unlike some friends and colleagues I have been very lucky to have my studio in my house and pieces of stone ready to carve. I hestitate in saying so but it’s been wonderful to be able to use this lockdown to have undisturbed time to work seven days a week. After having surgery last year I feel I have got so fit.”

Owen has submitted Journey to the Royal Society of Sculptors summer exhibition which is hoping to stage a physical exhibition at its Kensington base in July.


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