If a nun, the Grim Reaper, and the angel of death (a la Hellboy II) had a baby, what do you get? The hauntingly elegant and theatrically enigmatic figurative sculptures of Philip Jackson. An award-winning Scottish sculptor, he is known for his modern style with an emphasis on form and body language. While he has been commissioned to produce many sculptures across the world (and has even acted as the Royal Sculptor to Queen Elizabeth II), his personal work is much more haunting than the standard memorial portrait.
Jackson’s journey into bronze sculpture began as an 11-year-old boy perusing his grandmother’s art books. A volume of contemporary sculptures sealed young Philip’s fate. After art school, a spell as a press photographer, and working with such major British sculptors as Henry Moore, he landed his first commission in 1987, a competition-winning National Peace sculpture for Manchester, jumpstarting his sculpture career.
His muses often wear habits, hoods, or masks, and are cloaked in long gown-like attire and are usually adorned in runes or gold accents, adding a good deal of creepy noblesse to his body of personal work. His ability to convey the human condition through skillful use of body language is legendary, producing figures both imposing and operatic in their narrative and presence. Powerful and beautifully sculpted, Jackson’s meticulously precise posturing of each piece creates an overwhelming sense of drama.
The body language is the true focus of Jackson’s artwork. In spite of the mask and cloak the viewer can see whether the wearer is male or female, happy or sad, aggressive or passive by simply interpreting the body language.
Per the artist:
My sculptures are essentially an impressionistic rendering of the figure. Where you see the figure seemingly grow out of the ground, the texture resembles tree bark, rock, or lava flow. As the eye moves up the sculpture, the finish becomes gentler & more delicately worked, culminating in the hands and the mask, both of which are precisely observed & modeled.
While not all artwork produced by Jackson is ominous and larger than life, Philip Jackson’s sculptures truly encapsulate their own personalities. I can say, however, that I would not want to meet The Sentinels after dark.