Sunday, 4 November 2012

Camden Arts Centre: Steel Sculpture by Eric Bainbridge

30th October 2012

I dropped into Camden Arts Centre having received a note about their steel sculpture and thought it might be interesting.  At the desk I was given details about two exhibitions upstairs and knowing the way climbed up.  Laura guided me round the current exhibitions.  There is a curated show by Simon Martin titled UR Feeling ( and another show of Eric Bainbridge’s work titled Steel Sculptures (

In the Martin show, I admired a drawing by Stephen Shore titled Twenty-first Street and Spruce Street, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, June 21, 1974.  I mentioned to Laura that many of the streets in the city are named after trees.  For some reason, I had been to Walnut Street in the past.  There is a piece of furniture art by Ettore Scotsass which could resemble a fitment popular in some houses in the 1960s in Scotland.  I wondered if this was Arte Povera.  There is a fascinating chair by Richard Artschwager (Chair 1965-2000) which is made up of mounted photographs of a chair and is itself mounted on a plinth. 

  Room view of Simon Martin exhibition
Richard Artschwager's Chair is at the back, on the left
Credit: Camden Arts Centre 


Richard Artschwager's Chair

Installation by Ettore Scotsass


Steel Sculptures by Eric Bainbridge


Much of the steel sculpture in this show has a textile addition be it a dish towel, sheets or a blanket.  I was not too sure of this, but found the steel shapes and clear lines very attractive.  There is a lot of filigree work and these pieces have been assembled from scrap rods, plates and girders.  Some show flaked paint or even rust and there are some colours recognisable, just.  Laura guided me round as some of the shapes change on viewing angle and are almost kinetic. 

I thought back to my teenage days when we would clamber on rooftops in Edinburgh, taking care to avoid stacks of TV aerials which proliferated on the rooftops.  Each household, as it acquired a new TV channel or set or even colour, seemed to have a different aerial and this reflected the apparent wealth or choice (BBC or ITV) available in the region.  The TV aerial has given way to the either cable or satellite and, like the weather-vane, is now a curiosity.

Bainbridge uses metal ‘found’ within an art college and these pieces have been welded, I think, and possibly assembled before the show (from the notes which were read to me, some of these pieces have been welded by David Aldridge, who used to work in Sunderland’s shipyards).

Laura read out the labels and we moved to the final piece which resembles a clothes line with sheets hanging from clothes pegs, which is what it is.  There is a gap at the right hand side and it is possible to duck under the wire and go back stage. 
Credit: Camden Arts Centre
The picture below shows a view of the room with several of Bainbridge's sculptures.

Room view of Eric Bainbridge exhibition

Credit: Camden Arts Centre

A sighted friend has been able to identify the following in this picture:

On the far right, in the front is a piece titled The Mind of the Artist (Exposed), 2011, steel on blanket

Behind the above, on the right is a piece called Booble/Bubble 2011, Steel, cotton

On the left, in the middle, is a piece with a fine spiral pattern which can only be seen when viewed front on.  It took me by surprise as Laura guided me to it.  This was probably the piece I liked the most as I walked round it.  It reminded me of a weather-vane, which one can only view from the right direction.

Various coloured steel sculpture by Eric Bainbridge

I told Linda, at the desk, how much I had enjoyed the visit and asked if any images were available.  They were and Linda kindly sent me some for the room views and which I have included in this post.  Photographs can be taken of the sculptures, though touching is not appropriate as there are edges and the pieces are rusty.  In many ways I thought of David Nash and his wooden sculptures hewn with a chain saw.  These are not cast metal such as bronze but steel, which is not long lasting but more durable than wood, possibly. 

Tip: Attractive file notes are available on the artists on show and there is a flat screen display with interviews placed on the left hand side of the entrance to the café.  Speaking of the café, I had a pot of tea and a slice of Victoria Sponge!  Free posters are also available on a roll your own basis with elastic bands supplied.

Many thanks to Laura and Linda for such a kind welcome. 
Details on how to get to Camden Arts Centre can be found on:
Prof Whitestick has also done a post about 'found' wood which has been used by David Nash in forming sculpture: