This week I am in the company of Sussex artisan artist Michael Joseph who is currently exhibiting at Wisley Gardens as part of the 2019 Surrey Sculpture Society Trail.
As an aviator, engineer, inventor and conservationist, as well as an artist, Michael gives a contemporary expression to the ideals of Paul Nash, Eric Ravilious and other British artists in the early 20th century who produced designs and illustrations commercially alongside their output of fine art.
The themes which unite his interests and passions: relationships with others and the world, an understanding of materials and engineering, and the intuition of an aviator all inform Michael Joseph the artist.
I ask Michael about his creative process, he says “It’s a journey of discovery – of not knowing how the finished work will be as I set out – it’s spontaneous and ambiguous.”
I comment on how there seems to be a conversation between his paintings and sculpture. His fluidity of line is balanced with a strength of expression. The lines in his sculptures are often taken directly from the drawings in his sketch books as you can see in the various maquettes and collage, titled ‘Conversation’, displayed in his Morning room. Michael comments “There is a conversation between, line, shape and texture. I try to make the line as simple as possible leaving room for the viewer to interpret a piece for themselves, there should always be room for mystery. I seek to express not only the physicality of the sitter but also their emotions, their feelings.”
Michael explains “I enjoy the technical challenges of making art. I have a forge to bend metal into shape and a foundry for bronze. I’ve always been comfortable making things. ‘Tryst’ is made from Corten Steel which corrodes to a point and then the layer of oxidization halts the process – it matures.” In this large sculpture the man’s vulnerability and fragility is held by the strength of the female figure. The composition is united and given life by the repeated rhythms of texture and patterns. Michael says “In observing I am looking at the relational quality in my subject and in the work itself. At the centre of my art are the values of form, line and colour – distilling to get the essence of a subject.”
Michael Joseph’s work is being exhibited alongside more than 100 pieces of sculpture from some of the South East’s finest established and emerging artists, set against the beautiful backdrop of RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB. The show runs until 22nd September 2019.
Don’t miss the accompanying exhibition ‘Sculpture at Wisley 2019’ which features the work of seminal 20th and 21st century artists: Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick, Tracey Emin, Phillip King, Henry Bruce and Philip Haas. To find out more visit www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley and www.mjartist.com.