British sculptor Michael James Talbot is renowned for his figurative sculpture, created with an ethereal quality and anatomical precision. The human form and its “dramatic poetry” have always been an inspiration for his work, the originals of which he creates from clay then casts into bronze, uniquely finishing and patinating (coating the surface of) each and every sculpture.
“No other subject has this richness of emotional and spiritual content or the capacity to convey such a broad and interesting narrative” - Michael James Talbot
Having completed a BA honours degree in Sculpture, then gaining a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Arts in London for postgraduate study in 1980, Michael was awarded the coveted Landseer prize in 1983. This already accomplished background led to further studies at The Sir Henry Doulton Sculpture School under the tutelage of Colin Melbourne ARCA and Dame Elizabeth Drink RA and has equipped him with impeccable mastery in the field.
Many accolades have followed his success including his being elected a member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1997 and later, in 2012, a member of the National Sculpture Society, USA. He has worked with a number of high profile organisations and clients on projects a variety of sculpture projects, including actress Jamie Winstone and supermodel Kate Moss, and his striking work is displayed in private collections throughout the world, being exhibited in galleries in the UK, Europe, and the US.
Believing that “The wonder and fascination of sculpture is its ability to be a solid form that can be seen, touched and walked around and yet remain an object of pure spirit” means that his exquisite pieces, many of which incorporate the classical element of drapery, are elegantly formed and appear almost weightless in nature. It is clear to see from his body of work that he is heavily influenced by myth, dance, and theatre. Indeed, he says “sculpture for me, is essentially a theatrical construction, an attempt to show and illuminate a chosen moment in time. [...] I have tried to capture in bronze, through the lost wax process, a technique from Ancient Greece, to render a timeless human narrative from the Myth of Greece. I like to give my sculptures choreography of form, tension and balance to lead the eye and capture a moment in time...”
His style and techniques were a perfect fit for collaboration with The Royal Ballet and, between 2014 and 2016, he created a series of sculptures inspired by the dancers of the company, which he entitled the ‘Ballet Collection’. Every piece was meticulously crafted to capture the precise posture and poise of the dancer, by working closely with his subjects at the Royal Opera House.
His clay sculpture was rigorously scrutinised by the expert eyes of the Royal Ballet directors, and Michael would often make minuscule adjustments accordingly, to ensure the highest degree of accuracy and authenticity in the final piece.
His sculpture, Juliet, from the series was inspired by the character in the classic Kenneth MacMillan-choreographed ballet Romeo and Juliet. Of the piece Michael says “In Juliet, I was looking for an image seen in vulnerable elevation, to give some sense of the true wonder in seeing a dancer leave the stage and remain in the air, a seemingly effortless illusion created in story, told by dancers with music movement costume and light. The use of light and dark as a shifting motif is central to the composition, much of the ballet taking place at night giving the performers an illuminated jewel like aspect. I have endeavoured to echo this with in the Patina colour, which in a bronze sculpture is an especially challenging delight.”
Our two most recently acquired pieces from Michael, Three Graces and Three Graces Tabletop, are part of a collection in which each of the subjects “emerge from the external layers that constrain them”. Each figure is fully sculpted standing free with all sides shown to an advanced and detailed level, then Michael fixes the pose before removing half of the features with the addition of the flat plains. He says, “by adding, I take away, in doing so I’m saying ‘this aspect is important and this aspect can fade’. As so often in art, less is more.”
Head over to our online gallery to browse his collection of intricately formed and beautiful sculpture.