London-based sculptor David Begbie is renowned for his innovative steelmesh sculpture which is exhibited and collected globally. He discovered the properties of his medium as a student in 1977 and developed the idea as a post-graduate at the Slade School of Sculpture, University College London. Begbie continues to be both inspired and challenged by the unlimited and inherent possibilities of his medium.
His sculptures are contemporary archetypal images using figurative physical forms made from steelmesh and stainless steel. Encapsulated within these forms are a series of relationships between male and female, masculinity and femininity, positive and negative, matter and antimatter, light and dark. He sets up a paradox by creating from this cold industrial material, delicate, sensual and powerful work that is at once contemporary and timeless. Using strategic lighting to create supremely optical compositions of line and form, each transparent sculpture has a greater palpable presence than the space which it occupies. Begbie offers movement whenever there is any shift of light - so much so that these pieces can sometimes have an interactive element.
It is precisely because Begbie is a sculptor and the majority of his work is modelled by hand that Palm I is appropriately a self-portrait. This sculpture is not a truncated form, but rather a delineated palm, existing as a complete form in its own right. The easel in which it is suspended draws reference to the interplay between sculpture and drawing which constitutes his artform and technique. Light plays an integral part in Begbie’s work, and in outdoor display this sculpture changes dramatically when the translucent properties of the medium combine with ever shifting light conditions. In full sunlight the piece becomes a simple hand shape, ethereal and transparent, but when light strikes across the surface, the intricate detail of the self-portrait becomes vividly apparent.
Photo of David Begbie: Henryk Hetflaisz