F.E. McWilliam

Mother and Daughter


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Not on display

F.E. McWilliam 1909–1992
Wood, plastic and metal
Object: 320 x 380 x 120 mm
Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983

Display caption

In the early 1950s, McWilliam made a number of sculptures out of plastic and wood applied to a metal frame. This technique offered the artist a cheaper alternative at a time when he could not afford bronze. Influenced by surrealism, McWilliam was interested in the viewer’s ability to ‘complete’ the missing parts of his sculptures in their minds. His fragmented and distorted representations of the human figure also seem to express the sense of anxiety that followed the Second World War.

Gallery label, January 2019

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Catalogue entry

T03758 Mother and Daughter 1951

Plastic wood and ‘Loy’ plastic metal 12 1/2 × 15 × 5 1/4 (320 × 380 × 120)
Not inscribed
Transferred from the Victoria and Albert Museum 1983
Prov: Purchased from the artist by Department of Circulation, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1953 (Circ. 2–1953)
Exh: McWilliam, Sculpture and Drawings, Robin Campbell, Paintings, Hanover Gallery, October–November 1952 (no catalogue)

McWilliam made in the early 1950s a number of such small sculptures out of plastic wood applied to a metal armature, and many of these have family subjects. It was an alternative technique at a time when he could not afford bronze, and he worked directly, and not from drawings (letter from the artist, 5 December 1984). His major work in this style on a large scale is the metal ‘Matriarch’, which was shown in 1953 at the exhibition 20th Century Form at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, and which is similar in design to the Tate Gallery sculpture.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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