Career Change, Literary Figures and Commemorative Sculpture with Martin Jennings

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Martin Jennings statues have been commissioned by the UK's greatest institutions: the National Portrait Gallery, St Paul's Cathedral, the Palace of Westminster, the University of Oxford, and many others. His statue of John Betjeman, the driving force behind the saving of St. Pancras station in the 1960s, welcomes visitors from all over the world to the capital city. He won the Public Monuments and Statue Associations Marsh Award for Public Sculpture in 2017.

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You can find images of Martin Jennings work and a transcription of the interview at SCULPTURE VULTURE

If you are looking for a new book, the novel mentioned in this interview is currently available free from Sculpture Vulture.

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Snippet from the interview:

Lucy: Today, I began our chat by asking him if he'd always been creative.

Martin: Well, that's a big, open question. I think we all are from birth, and I have, I suppose, been so in different ways. I went to university, studied English literature, and looked at art literature, as it were, from the outside before I went to art school to start making things myself.

Lucy: And so, it was books and literature, words, that drew you before the form and fine arts?

Martin: Yes, it was. I come from a very artistic family. My mother was a painter, and I have several brothers who are writers and journalists, and also painters and good at drawing and that sort of thing, and calligraphy. In fact, what I first studied at art school was calligraphy and lettering. But I came to it rather late in my 20s. So I'd struggled with playing the piano at school, and, as I said, most of my exposure to the arts was through books and reading. But as a visual artist, well, I didn't really start till I was in my early 20s. But it has gone on continuously since then.

Lucy: Was it somebody that influenced the moving towards sculpture, or did it just feel like a very natural progression?

Martin: there was a moment at school I remember, I went into the art teacher's sculpture studio. And as soon as I saw the working life he had, you know, surrounded with blocks of stone, and with dusty books on the bookshelves, and just, sort of, dust everywhere, I came to the conclusion that this was the life for me.

I'd never have to put a tie on ever again. But I then went to university, and it took me until after I left university before I really approached it seriously.

Lucy: With my own children, we have a studio at home, and there's all sorts of projects all the way around them, but because it's so familiar to them, they kind of go against that. They want to do the opposite of what I'm interested in. But for you, I suppose, the familiarity of having your mum painting, and the materials, and those things at home, just felt much more natural to you?

Martin: It certainly seemed like an occupation that could command respect, insofar as my parents were forever talking about art and artists, mainly painters. So where other people

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