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February 2003 - Second Visions with Alan Bennett

Sculptor extraordinaire, Allan Bennett, gave a slideshow and talk about his (mostly early) work. 

An inveterate re-cycler, he appeared on the BBC TV series "Counting the Pennies" last year.  He has the ability to see potential in what most of us might call junk, and seems able to convey a serious message in a whimsical form.  The GM insects being a good example of this. Called "Gardeners' Nightmares", these are large colourful insects made from old garden tools.

Originally a potter, along with his wife Peg, he ran the Welcombe Pottery in North Devon - and some of his sculptures were based on items which had gone wrong in the making.  A fountain entitled "Just Good Friends" started life as a coil pot which grew into a large entwined form.

Another pottery-based sculpture was a tall jug which had been cut in half vertically (a method used in teaching students to throw evenly-walled pots) and each half filled differently - one with icy-blue glass to represent water, and the other with a plaster cast of his own hand. Each half jug held a spray of poppy heads made from the dried seed heads which had been dipped in liquid clay and dried.  On firing the seed heads burnt away leaving only the clay shape.

On moving from the pottery, Peg continued her model making whilst Allan extended his love of re-using "found" items.  We saw a small, elegant composition made entirely from door hinges albeit hand-made ones from a Georgian house door entitled "… and the Queen said 'We shall take the beasts for a walk'".  

At the other extreme, photographed standing on the cliffs overlooking West Mill, Welcombe, was a 9' tall GM beetle made from an old oil tank.  The original tap is used for the beetle's 'waterworks' as Allan coyly calls it.

Just as interesting to watch as the slides themselves, was Allan's unusual use of the slide projector to save us from having to stand on our heads.   Hope it's survived Brian!


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