It’s hard to know whether contemporary artists are driven by a small minority of influential and often self-interested parties promoting the ‘in thing’, or whether they are driven by the zeitgeist of the moment. Whichever it is, the word ‘contemporary’ has been hijacked by the art establishment and too many, not of that elite world, find known as ‘contemporary art’ that is difficult to comprehend. After all, can a piece of art that can be recreated by the average 6-year-old really be worth six figures? Apparently so. Well, it seems that the trend is swinging back to more traditional forms of art that are more accessible and recognisable by the ordinary person. Perhaps the whispers of “Emperor’s new clothes” has started to take effect. Michael Talbot is one of the artists strongly emerging as a leading light with his modern interpretation of classical figurative sculpture. This is contemporary art that doesn’t need a little white card with a creative narrative to make it ‘art’.
Talbot is a very rare breed of artist. There are few figurative sculptors in the world and only a handful that can come close to Talbot’s artistry with bronze. His creations are known for their beauty and elegance with exceptional attention to detail. Talbot was born in Staffordshire in the north of England in1959. After completing a BA honours degree in Sculpture, he gained a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Arts in London for post graduate study in 1980, winning the coveted Landseer prize in 1983. He studied further at The Sir Henry Doulton Sculpture School under Colin Melbourne ARCA and Dame Elizabeth Frink RA who became a good friend and mentor to the then young aspiring artist.
Talbot’s work is sold throughout the world to a rapidly growing number of collectors but mostly to ordinary people who just appreciate his artwork. Calken Gallery, situated in the heart of Kensington Church Street, is a regular haunt for lovers and collectors of contemporary art, and is this year showcasing Talbot’s works, alongside the Dutch painter Edo Kaiij, in their Christmas exhibition. Due to the compatibility of these two skilled artists, this will be the third occasion that Calken have paired Talbot with Kaiij. “Both artists manage to capture the very essence of femininity in their individual and distinctive styles and their artworks beautifully complement each other” says gallery director Naomi Hickling.
One of Talbot’s exciting new projects is taking him away from his typical lean toward the feminine, in the form of The Royal Ballet’s Principal dancer, Edward Watson. This initial project with Watson leads the way in an exciting new collaboration with The Royal Ballet.
Alongside this, Talbot is still busy at work continuing his ‘Faces that have shaped modern London’ collection, where leading figures from the prominent fields of politics, hospitality, entertainment and fashion have been captured in bronze by Talbot’s hand; Kate Moss being his most recent and notable muse. This recognition and snapshot of people in time, in the untypical medium of bronze, is a first of its kind, documenting this exciting, diverse and ever-changing London scene and will serve as a reminder to the international audience of London’s influential achievement.
Perhaps not surprisingly we hear that Talbot is to create a body of work consisting of several (yet to be defined) sculptures of Kate Moss. He is being tight lipped about exactly what it is he’s working on but would say, “I feel privileged to be working with Kate and she’s inspired me to create something a bit different and I think very special”. Calken have promised to announce exactly what he’s working on in early spring of next year.