T03369 LADY IN NICHE 1973
Green flock, polystyrene, fibreglass, household paint and plywood 82 1/2 × 62 × 30 (2095 × 1575 × 762)
Purchased from Mayor Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1982
Prov: Purchased from the artist by Mayor Gallery
Exh: Ivor Abrahams, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, June–August 1973, Lijnbaan Centrum, Rotterdam, August–September 1973 (not catalogued); Ivor Abrahams, Sculptures and Works on Paper, City Museum and Art Gallery, Portsmouth, March–April 1979, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, June–July 1979, Art Gallery, Middlesbrough, July–September 1979, City Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, October–November 1979, St Enoch's Gallery, Glasgow, December 1979–January 1980 (1, repr.); British Sculpture in the 20th Century, part 2, Whitechapel Art Gallery, November 1981–January 1982 (110); Ivor Abrahams, Sculptures 1972–1982, Warwick Arts Trust, November–December 1982 (3, repr. in col.)
Lit: R.J. Rees, ‘Ivor Abrahams's Sculptures’, Studio International, CLXXXXIII, June 1972, pp.263–5
Also repr: Ivor Abrahams, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, exhibition catalogue, 1984, p.11
Abrahams's ‘Lady in Niche’ is one of a group of large sculptures he made in the early 1970s of garden subjects, in this case a decorative sculpture in a niche, in which foliage is represented by green flock. This commercial technique, usually used for example on model toys or wallpaper, was first used by Abrahams as a surface for sculpture in 1970, and was an elaboration of the setting of his ‘Nude Statue on Lawn’ (1966–8) which was placed on a carpet of rayon flock. The origin of much of his later sculpture in this work is described by the artist in a conversation with R.J. Rees published in the exhibition catalogue Ivor Abrahams, Kölnischer Kunstverein, 1973, pp.16–18, and the technique is described in an article by R.J.Rees (Studio International, loc.cit.).
A version of this sculpture 26 in. high was made and exhibited in the previous year, 1972 (Kölnischer Kunstverein, op.cit., repr. p.41). In this the flock surrounds the figure, covering the ‘niche’, and it is a single piece (unlike the Tate Gallery's sculpture in which the flocked part is separate). This smaller work was reproduced in ceramic in 1972, in conjunction with the Ceramic Workshop, Edinburgh. An etching of this subject was made in 1976, part of a series titled ‘Works Past’.
Several preceding sculptures and reliefs by Abrahams similarly depict a more or less classical statue covered with foliage (such as the relief ‘Distant View’, 1971) and photographs of some of his earliest sculptures show them set in a landscape in a comparable way, particularly ‘Figure Fragment’ of 1956 (repr. Kölnischer Kunstverein, op.cit., p.10).
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986