We use cookies to improve your experience online. By using our website, you agree to the use of cookies as described in our cookies policy.

Artist of the month: March 2016

Ann Christopher RA

Published 1 March 2016

As her new series of drawings goes on display at the RA, we take a look at the life and work of one of Britain’s best abstract sculptors.

  • Ann Christopher RA is an abstract artist best known for her elegant and enigmatic sculpture. She works primarily in metal – cast bronze, stainless steel, silver and fabricated Corten – to create both large and small-scale pieces. In addition to her sculptures, Christopher also produces series of prints and drawings as well as photo assemblages.

    Christopher was born in Watford in 1947 and attended Harrow School of Art before moving to the West of England College of Art where she specialised in sculpture, studying with Ralph Brown and Robert Clatworthy. In the early stages of her career, she was impressed by the work of sculptors like Giacometti and Paolozzi as well as the more purely abstract approach of Hepworth and of contemporaries like Anthony Caro and Bryan Kneale. Christopher describes feeling instinctively drawn to non-figurative forms and finding greater freedom in invoking and suggesting rather than recording.

  • Ann Christopher has held numerous solos shows and also contributed to group exhibitions from the late 1960s onwards, winning several important prizes including the Peter Stuyvesant Award, the Daily Telegraph Magazine Young Sculptors Competition and the Otto Beit Medal for Sculpture of Outstanding Merit. In 1980 she was the youngest female sculptor to be elected an Associate of the Royal Academy and in 1989 she became a full Royal Academician. Standing Line (pictured) was the work that she presented to the institution at this time. Like many of her sculptures, this understated bronze, which is currently on display in the Royal Academy restaurant, can be connected with her interest in prehistoric standing stones and natural rock formations as well as continuing her preoccupation with the properties of line and linearity in both a formal and a conceptual sense.

    A more recent work, the sterling silver Shadow of Light (pictured), extends the artist’s exploration of the relationship between light and shadow, but it is produced on a much smaller scale than her previous work. This, along with the sculpture’s razor-sharp tip and textured edges, also connects it directly to Christopher’s fascination with knives and blades.

  • Throughout her career Christopher has also addressed similar themes through her series of works on paper. She tends to develop these series of prints and drawings periodically in between working on sculptures. Intriguingly, the two have a mutually receptive relationship in her creative process. The titles of many of Christopher’s sculptures relate to qualities traditionally associated with draughtsmanship – line, light and shadow – while her drawings and prints are often concerned with qualities connected with sculpture and architecture – texture, presence and three-dimensionality. This semi-figurative drawing, from an early series, reflects on the relationship between landscape and the built environment.

    Ann Christopher: The Lines of Time is in the Tennant Gallery until 29 May.

    The exhibition coincides with the publication of a new monograph on Ann Christopher featuring an introduction by Richard Cork. The limited edition of this book includes an impression of Finding Lines, a new intaglio print with collage, one of which will be presented to the Royal Academy Collections by the artist.

    The object of the month for March is Mick Rooney RA’s Shangri-la. See more from the RA Collection.