It is with great pleasure that I write to invite you to a launch of a new installation of sculptures by Eric Stanford in the Department of Classics, including the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, at University of Reading. Please join me this Tuesday to welcome to UoR’s Edith Morley building two of Stanford’s sculptures from the University Art Collection, Protesilaus (shown above) and Helen of Troy. We are also pleased to welcome a third of Stanford’s sculptures, Memnon, on loan from a private collection.
Professor Amy C. Smith, Curator, Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology
Eric Stanford (b. 1932) was educated at the Palmer School and Ranelagh School, Bracknell, then St Martin’s School of Art, where he was taught to carve by the Basque sculptor José Alberdi (1922–2008). His passion for stone carving also brought him into contact with the work and philosophy of Eric Gill (1882-1940), who represented a new beginning for British sculpture through his revival of the practice of ‘direct carving’ into stone, rather than working through technicians and from fired clay and cast plaster models. During his studies at the University of Reading for a Fine Art Degree between 1953–1955, under A.C. Carter, Stanford began working as an assistant to the painter, sculptor, and celebrated war artist, Eric Kennington (1888-1960), himself a prominent mentee of Gill.
Gill, Kennington and Stanford belong to a group of British sculptors who questioned classical standards of beauty by looking anew at the art of non-European cultures, which they used to inspire a fresh, modern approach to Classical and other traditional themes in western sculpture. Greek mythology was a frequent source of inspiration for Stanford’s later work and the University of Reading Art Collection holds two carvings that reflect this ongoing interest in Classical myth. The strong presence of geometric forms in these sculptures also shows the influence of cubist artists on Stanford’s practice.
Stanford went on to work as a lecturer at Berkshire College of Art between 1961 and 1967 and, from 1968 to 1989 he was Keeper of Art at Reading Museum and Art Gallery. He is a member of the Bath Society of Artists, an Associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, and an Honorary Life Member of the Reading Guild of Artists. He now resides with his wife, Helen, also an artist, in Wiltshire.
Department of Classics