Barry Flanagan

a nose in repose


Not on display

Barry Flanagan 1941–2009
Hornton stone and elm
Object: 895 × 751 × 305 mm
Purchased 1980

Display caption

Flanagan learnt to carve stone while at Birmingham College of Art in the mid 1950s, but then did not return to the material until 1973. He does not like to carve deeply into his chosen block of stone and favours letting the stone reveal its own 'geography'. 'A Nose in Repose' was made in his studio at Watlington in the Chilterns, from Honiton stone from Edgehill Quarry. Flanagan first saw the stone as a pyramidal shape, but then felt it looked like 'a nose... a civil weaponry at peace'. This makes a veiled reference to the Battle of Edgehill during England's civil war. The wood supporting the stone is composed of planed and sandblasted pit-props made at Brackley, Northamptonshire.

Gallery label, August 2004

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Catalogue entry

T03059 A NOSE IN REPOSE 1977–9

Not inscribed
Hornton stone and twenty elmwood blocks
Stone 16 1/2 × 30 3/4 × 10 7/8 (42 × 78 × 26.5), base 35 1/4 × 30 3/4 ×12 (90.2 × 178 × 30.5)
Purchased from the Waddington Galleries (Grant-in-Aid) 1980
Exh: Barry Flanagan: Recent Sculpture, Waddington Galleries, April–May 1980 (no catalogue)
Lit: Barry Flanagan: Sculptures in Stone 1973–1978, Waddington Galleries 1980, p.38, repr. p.30
Repr: Tate Gallery 1978–80, p.49 in colour

When studying at the Birmingham College of Art 1955–57 Barry Flanagan worked with several sculptural materials including stone and later made carvings in stone at Beer Quarry, Devon in 1958–59. When studying at St. Martins School of Art in 1964–66 Flanagan says that he ‘worked in everything but stone.’ He returned to stone carving in 1973 in Italy, at the Pietra Santa quarry, near Carrara, where he carved ‘Untitled’ 1973 (private collection) using a pneumatic chisel.

Flanagan does not like to cut deeply into a block, so he choses a piece of stone carefully, a shape he can use so that he can respond to the ‘geography’ of the stone. He describes his approach as ‘soliciting stability in the stone’. ‘a nose in repose’ was made at his studio at Watlington in the Chilterns, from Hornton stone from Edgehill Quarry. He first saw the stone as a pyramidal shape, but ‘dubs it a “nose”, ... a civil weaponry at peace’.

The wood supporting the stone part of ‘a nose in repose’ is composed of planed and sandblasted pit-props made at Brackley, Northamptonshire.

Flanagan has long been fascinated by spirals, suggesting to him, for example, the umbilical cord which symbolises his attachment to the physicality of the material world and for the attachment of man to work. Flanagan is also interested in the spiral in Alfred Jarry's drawings for Ubu Roi and in snails and other similarly-shaped molluscs.

This catalogue entry is based on a discussion with Barry Flanagan (19 May 1980) and is approved by him.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981

You might like

In the shop