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Press release

Interior - Bryan Illsley

The Anthony Shaw Collection is pleased to announce its new exhibition - ‘'The Work of Bryan Illsley’, a selection made from its holdings by the distinguished weaver Stella Benjamin..

Benjamin worked with Bryan Illsley and Breon O'Casey in St Ives in the mid 70s and Breon asked her to help with his weaving - this was the start of her rugs. Illsley made her a simple loom and weaving Navaho flat weaves she produces rugs with large fields of colour made up from small patches whose diagonal joins give them their ‘lazy lines’ character. She had a solo show at Contemporary Applied Arts in 1986, 1990 and 1994, at Christopher Farr in 2001 and was short-listed for the Jerwood Prize: Textiles in 1997. She lives surrounded by the work of Bryan Illsley and says ‘Over the years I shared his journey in a small way, seeing him work in wood, clay, iron and paint, mixing the medium with many other materials, sand, clay, dust. They all have their place and presence; I see them without looking. All give me that allusive gift few artists can’.

Whilst Illsley is best known for his jewellery which he began making while working with Breon O'Casey, his real passion is painting and sculpture - which he started as an apprentice stonemason - and later with clay while working at the Leach Pottery in St. Ives.

He has a natural ability with all the materials he uses. Paintings are on paper, canvas, off-cuts of wood and board and, using his own paints, are often a blend of colour and the drawn line, owing much to his appreciation for the Russian Constructivists. Large early works have been replaced with almost ‘immature‘ works on bits of wood or board but they describe the values of emptiness, space and scale with immense power. He has used wood, found iron and clay for his sculptures. They all have a sense of the drawn line in space - long lean lines either of green branch wood simply cut and shaped and set together in archetypal forms, found iron pieces sit together as figures or faces, or the clay worked in a similar manner to the iron work with boldly added colour.

The Trustees are very grateful to Bryan Illsley and the other lenders of early sculptures.

The work in the Collection can be seen on from mid May.

Please see the July edition of Apollo Magazine for an article on Bryan Illsley by Ruth Guilding.

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