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Surrey Sculpture Society - Join the club

PUBLISHED: 12:24 02 November 2011 | UPDATED: 09:03 10 March 2015

Surrey Sculpture Society (Photo Pete Gardner).

Surrey Sculpture Society (Photo Pete Gardner).

Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, Surrey Sculpture Society welcomes everyone from amateur artists to those at the height of their careers. Here, publicity officer SUE NICHOLSON tells us more about this thriving organisation

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2009

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When was the group set up and why?

Founded in 1994 by Crispin Rayner as a group of 14 sculptors in the Guildford area, the society celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. Its aims are to promote interaction between sculptors, to organise exhibitions and to encourage appreciation of sculpture.

How often do you meet?

Aside from the organisation of the major exhibitions, the society has formed itself into small, informal, largely local groups, who meet as and when they wish. Their activities are many and various. Sometimes, they may be discussing sculpture generally, or the on-going work of people in the group. Since experience and expertise varies, members are often able to help each other overcome specific problems with a piece. Some groups involve themselves in joint artistic projects or visits - for example, to see national exhibitions.

And do your members tend to meet socially outside the society as well?

Basically, group meetings are sociable events and help members to make contact with one another - a great boon, since art is often a very isolated activity. Also, because each group has a local core, it is easy for people to meet.

What's the best thing about being in the society?

It's impossible to choose one thing! It is without doubt stimulating, supportive and friendly, but also motivating as it gives individuals a public platform for their sculpture through its exhibitions.

The society holds six to seven exhibitions a year, presenting a wide range of styles and media, thus appealing to all tastes. Venues range from intimate galleries, such as the Harvey Gallery in Guildford itself and Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, to extensive and prestigious gardens where much larger pieces can be displayed, such as the National Trust's property Polesden Lacey at Great Bookham and RHS Wisley.

Do you find being surrounded by like-minded individuals inspiring?

The commitment, dedication and creative energy of members is definitely inspiring. So is the wide variety of styles: from figurative to abstract, traditional to contemporary, in diverse media including bronze, metal, ceramics, wood, stone, sound and found objects.

How many members do you have?

The society currently has 321 members and has spread beyond Surrey across the surrounding counties.

What is the age range of the group?

Some members are young sculptors, others at the height of their careers, while for others it's a retirement activity.

Do you have links with other similar organisations around the country?

Quite a few of our professionals are also elected members and associates of the Royal British Society of Sculptors and the Society of Portrait Sculptors, both prestigious organisations that work nationally to promote and advance sculpture.

Do you have any famous members?

A number of our members have public commissions on permanent display in a variety of locations.

What's the most interesting story from the group's history?

Probably the most unusual is a fairly recent occurrence. One of our members, determined to find funding for a long-standing project, applied for a place on BBC TV's Dragons' Den. He wanted to create a series of 18 pop icons, ranging from Frank Sinatra past the Sex Pistols and on to Madonna. A winning contestant, he was spectacularly successful, having obtained the major sum to make it possible. He is now busy completing the last icon for his exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London at the end of June into July - clearly a must for our groups to visit!

...and the funniest?

A few years ago, a member's sculpture of a naked man climbing a rope 'escaped' from another outdoor exhibition. In spite of extensive searches of the area, he was never found. The police suggested that the most likely explanation had to be the Indian rope trick...

Describe your club in five words...

Our society is 'welcoming' and 'supportive'. It 'involves', 'encourages' and 'inspires'.

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For more about Surrey Sculpture Society and their latest exhibitions, visit www.surreysculpture.org.uk

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