Michael Sandle at the Cragg Foundation
The Cragg Foundation presents a powerful selection of large-scale sculptures and maquettes for hypothetical public monuments by British sculptor Michael Sandle.
Michael Sandle’s work explores the enduring themes of violence, war, mortality, memorialisation, and remembrance. In response to the horrors of our age, Sandle’s work has critiqued what he describes as ‘the heroic decadence’ of capitalism, and the exertion and abuse of power in global conflict, politics and culture.
The bronze sculpture Caput Mortuum: A Commentary depicts a makeshift tomb apparently built amid the ruins of the 1982 Falklands War. A shrouded figure is surrounded by debris from the battlefield, with tyres laid in the style of commemorative wreaths, which Sandle sees as “framing and concealing its identity”, while microphones, which have been carefully arranged at the head, represent the mechanisms of media broadcasting. The assemblage of wreckage, surrounding the figure can also be seen to reflect specific memories of the devastation of Sandle’s childhood home in Plymouth and of growing up amid the physical and metaphorical ruins of World War II. As he has said: “rubbish dumps, tips and rubble… have become, for me, melancholy symbols of destruction”.
The shrouded figure marks a long running fascination with the symbolic agency of the anonymous body to represent both personal subjectivity, and shared universal experience. Two of the more recent sculptures, The Sound of Your Silence, a moving response to the Iraq war in 2009, and As Ye Sow So Shall Ye Reap: An Allegory, produced in 2015, memorialise the lives of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of modern day conflict, particularly the suffering of children.
Michael Sandle has said: “A memorial is a mock memory. It’s a question of what is remembered, and what society agrees is worth memorialising.”