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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

John Edward Taylerson (1854–c.1942)

Ecclesiastical and architectural sculptor born in Norton, Co. Durham. While he was still young, he and his widowed mother moved to Kent. He studied at Faversham School of Art, then South London Technical School of Art and finally Westminster School of Art. He began as an ecclesiastical sculptor and is probably the Taylerson, then in the employment of Thomas Earp, whose carvings in G.E. Street’s Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, 1871–78 (on the capitals of the pillars around the apse) were commended by William Butler in his book, The Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity Dublin (1901). The high quality of Taylerson’s work assured his employment as an architectural carver on a number of important building projects during the 1890s and 1900s: he was one of Hamo Thornycroft’s assistants on John Belcher’s Institute of Chartered Accountants, 1888–93; he carved the choir screen for G.H. Fellowes Prynne’s Church of St Peter’s, Staines, Surrey, 1892–93; carved ornamental details for T.E. Collcutt’s Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, 1899–1901; carved the figures for the reredos in J. Arthur Reeve’s St Barnabas, Addison Road, Kensington, 1909; and carved some of the decorative sculpture on Stanley Hamp’s Thames House, 1911–12. His chef-d’oeuvre, however, is the programme of works he completed for James Brooks and John Standen Adkins in St John the Baptist, Holland Road, Kensington . His work here includes all the figures on the choir screen, parclose screens and north and south aisle screens (1894–1900) and in the narthex-cum-baptistery: the cycle of Wise and Foolish Virgins in stone between the column shafts and the saints, etc, in oak on the arched screen separating the baptistery from the nave (1909–11). He showed 38 sculptures at the RA 1884–99 and 1910–26, the 1900–09 break in all likelihood caused by pressure of work from his architect employers; significantly, in the 1911 census he no longer refers to himself as an architectural sculptor but a sculptor working on his own account. His last major commission was for a group in stone, Succouring the Defenceless, for the war memorial at Warlingham, Surrey; the memorial was unveiled in 1921 and Taylerson exhibited the model for the group at the RA in 1924 (no. 1358). He also evidently taught modelling and wood-carving at Battersea Polytechnic but available sources supply no dates.

Sources: Builder, 27 October 1911, p. 480; Day, J.G.F., and H.E. Patton, The Cathedrals of the Church of Ireland, London, 1932, p. 91; Irish Architectural Archive. Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720–1940; Lloyd, F., et al, Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, Liverpool, 2011;Mapping Sculpture; Survey of London. Vol. XXXVII. North Kensington, London, 1973, pp. 133, 134; United Benefice of Holland Park. The Building. Look inside John the Baptist Church; Victorian Web; Ward-Jackson, P., Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003.

T. Cavanagh November 2022

Wendy Taylor (b. 1945)

Sculptor, printmaker and draughtsman born at Stamford, Lincolnshire, but living for many years in East London. She studied at St Martin’s School of Art, 1962–67, winning in 1964 the Walter Neurath award and in 1966 the Sainsbury award. In 1977, she obtained both an Arts Council award and a gold medal in the Listowel Graphics Exhibition, County Kerry, Eire. Taylor had the first of many solo exhibitions in 1970, at the Axiom Gallery, and has participated in many group exhibitions. Her appearances have been fewer since 1981 as she has ‘chosen to concentrate on working in the field of commissioned sculptures’. Two of Taylor’s commissions have been grade II listed by Historic England: Timepiece, 1972–73, Tower Hotel, St Katherine Docks, London, and Octo, 1979–80, Milton Keynes, while a third, her mariner’s astrolabe addition to the subsequently listed Virginia Settlers Memorial, Brunswick Quay, London, was cited by Historic England as one of the reasons for its listing. Her entry for the 2000 ‘Bronze: Contemporary British Sculpture’ exhibition at Holland Park, Tortoises with Triangle and Time, was subsequently retained as a permanent feature. Other major commissions include Dung Beetles, 1999, London Zoo, Regent’s Park; Millennium Fountain, 2000, Chase Green, Enfield, Middlesex (Civic Trust Award 2002); Through the Loop, 2002, Pacific Place, Hong Kong; Knowledge, 2003, Queen Mary College, University of London (Building of the Year Award, Architectural Sculpture 2004); Square Chain Piece, 2007, Hillside, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, USA; Memorial to the Civilian Dead of East London 1939–1945, 2007, Hermitage Riverside Memorial Garden, Wapping; Unity, 2011, Unison Centre, Euston Road, London; and Swirl, 2013, The Atrium, Park Road, Regent’s Park, London. Taylor was a member of the Royal Fine Art Commission, 1981–99; appointed CBE in 1988; elected a fellow of the Zoological Society in 1989, of the RBS in 1994 (council member 1999–2000), and of the Royal Society of Arts 2004.

Sources: Wendy Taylor website; Historic England official list entries: Octo; Timepiece; Virginia Quay Settlers Monument; Who’s Who (online).

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Wendy Taylor, 2016 (photo: © A.K.Purkiss)

Reuben Townroe (1835–1911)

Designer, sculptor and painter, born in Sheffield. He was, with James Gamble and Godfrey Sykes, a student at the Sheffield School of Design where one of his masters was Alfred Stevens. Shortly after Sykes’s move to London to work on the architectural decorations for the South Kensington Museum, both Townroe and Gamble were invited to join him as his assistants; and after Sykes’s death in 1866 the two took over as joint heads of the museum workshop. Townroe designed the mosaic panels portraying Bernard Palissy for the museum’s South Court (1864; since relocated) and Owen Jones for the Oriental Courts (1874; now lost). He also designed the large stained glass window for the North Staircase (1867; destroyed in the Second World War); the figurative mosaic lunettes and panels on the façade of the Lecture Theatre, and the Great Exhibition mosaic for its pediment (1868; designs based on Sykes’s sketches); and, with Gamble, modelled the reliefs on the museum’s then principal doorway (now opening onto the inner quadrangle, the John Madejski Garden). Townroe also designed the 15 mosaic panels above the round-headed first-floor windows on the outside of the Library building and the plaster overdoors within (c.1881). In 1865–71, Townroe and Gamble executed the terracotta decorations for the exterior of the Royal Albert Hall. Beginning in the 1870s, the South Kensington Museum suffered funding cuts and in 1882 Townroe resigned over his lack of payment. In the breaks between their work on the museum’s projects, Townroe and Gamble assisted Stevens on his two great commissions, the decorations for Dorchester House and the Wellington Monument for St Paul’s Cathedral. Townroe lived for much of his life in Chelsea (Church Street from c.1875, and Gertrude Street from c.1891 until his death). He exhibited at the RA only twice, in 1875 a portrait medallion of Captain Francis Fowke and in 1880 another of an unnamed sitter. In 1909, Townroe was a beneficiary of the RA’s Turner Fund (set up for artists in hardship who were not RAs). The V&A holds a large collection of his designs and sketches; Museums Sheffield, a self-portrait in oils (VIS.2310); and the National Portrait Gallery, a plaster cast of his 1875 death mask of Alfred Stevens (NPG 1413).

Sources: Bryant, J., Designing the V&A. The museum as a work of art (1857–1909), London, 2017; Graves, S., ‘Sykes, Godfrey (1824–1866)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; Mapping Sculpture; Marsden, C., ‘Godfrey Sykes and his studio at the South Kensington Museum’, in M. Pye and L. Sandino (eds.), Artists Work in Museums: histories, interventions, subjectivities, Bath, 2013, pp. 48–62; Physick, J., The Victoria and Albert Museum: The History of its Building, London, 1982.

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Newbury Abbot Trent (1885–1953)

Sculptor born at Forest Gate, London. At about the age of 11, Trent was reportedly discovered drawing in the South Kensington Museum by the Director for Art of the Department of Science and Art (the painter Thomas Armstrong RA) who, recognising Trent’s talent, persuaded his parents to allow him to adopt him and train him as an artist (Trent was one of 11 children and Armstrong’s own son had recently died at about the same age as Trent was when he spotted him). Trent entered the RCA, c.1904 and subsequently the RA Schools (1909–1912; 1910 Landseer Scholarship). In 1911, he married Phyllis Ledward, the daughter of Richard Ledward and sister of Gilbert Ledward. He exhibited at the RA, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, and Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts. His public sculptures include memorials to King Edward VII (the ‘Peacemaker’) in Brighton, 1912, and Bath, 1919; war memorials at New Barnet, 1921; Beckenham, 1921; Wanstead, 1922; Ilford, 1922; Tredegar, Wales, 1924; and Wallsend, 1924; the monument to Dean Pigou (d.1916), Bristol Cathedral; and architectural sculpture at the New Victoria Cinema (now Apollo Victoria Theatre), Wilton Road, London, 1929; Gaumont Palace cinemas, Hammersmith, 1932, and King’s Road, Chelsea, 1934; Cheltenham Cinema, 1932–33; No. 3 St James’s Square, London, 1933–34; Adelphi Building, John Adam Street, London, 1936–38; and Gaumont Cinema, North Finchley (lost), 1937. He was a member of the RBS from 1914, and his studio from c.1916 was at 1 Beaufort Street, Chelsea.

Sources: Mapping Sculpture; Royal Academy of Arts website; Who Was Who; relevant volumes of Pevsner’s ‘Buildings of England’.

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Newbury Abbot Trent, Bassano Ltd., whole-plate glass negative, 23 July 1921 (photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London).

Sian Tucker (b. 1958)

Tucker studied textiles at Middlesex Polytechnic, 1977–80 (BA Hons) and the RCA (MA in printed textiles, 1982). She subsequently established her own studio, working for private, public and corporate clients. She has designed for the Conran Stores and for Stifanel. She employs traditional motifs in bright, mostly primary colours, drawing inspiration from African and Native American traditions and from early twentieth-century art, notably the cut-outs of Henri Matisse. A hanging in hand-painted wool,which she designed in 1986, is in the collection of the V&A (museum no. T.133-1986). Her mobile, Falling Leaves, 1993, for Chelsea & Westminster Hospital is her largest project to date.

Sources: British Council website; CW+ Art Collection; The Healing Arts. The arts project at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, 2019.

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Laurence Arthur Turner (1864–1957)

Architectural carver in wood and stone, and modeller in plaster. He was the youngest of seven brothers, one of whom, Hugh Thackeray Turner, became architect to the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair and Belgravia, and commissioned decorative work from his younger brother for some of his houses. Laurence Turner was educated at Marlborough College and at Oxford. Following an apprenticeship with John McCulloch he went into business on his own, the high quality of his craftsmanship earning him commissions from some of the leading church architects of his day. For G.F. Bodley’s Holy Trinity, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, 1901–06, he carved the figures on the pulpit and on the reredoses in the chancel and Lady Chapel; for Philip Webb, he carved the tomb of William Morris (d. 1896) at Kelmscott; for Ernest Newton, the tomb of Richard Norman Shaw and family at Hampstead, 1913; and for Walter Tapper, the Lancaster Gate Memorial Cross, 1921. Turner was Master of the Art Workers’ Guild in 1922, a member of the Society of Antiquaries, and an honorary ARIBA. In 1927, he published Decorative Plasterwork in Great Britain. Following Turner’s death at the age of 93, Charles Wheeler wrote a glowing eulogy in The Times: ‘In these days when craftsmanship is at a low ebb, the loss of so accomplished a designer as Laurence Turner cannot but leave the art world poorer’.

Sources: Gray, A.S., Edwardian Architecture, London, 1985; Mapping Sculpture; The Times, 12 October 1957, p. 11 (obit. by Charles Wheeler).

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Peter Turnerelli (1774–1839)

Sculptor, mostly of portrait busts. He was born in Belfast of an Italian father, who was a modeller and figure-maker. The family moved to Dublin in 1787 and Turnerelli initially studied for the priesthood. Following the death of his mother in 1792, the family moved to London and Turnerelli joined them a year later, having abandoned the idea of being a priest and instead, in October 1794, entered the RA Schools. While at the schools he worked in the studio of P.F. Chenu and after completing his studies spent a brief period in Rome. On his return he came to the attention of Sir Thomas Lawrence and Benjamin West, who recommended him to the royal family as teacher of modelling to the royal princesses. He was eventually appointed the royal family’s sculptor-in-ordinary. Turnerelli enjoyed a remarkable success as a portrait sculptor, with over 80 marble copies of his Jubilee bust of George III being ordered by private patrons and public bodies. He was one of the first portrait sculptors to represent his subjects in contemporary dress. His reputation reached the continent and he numbered among his patrons the Czar of Russia and the King of Prussia; in 1816, Louis XVIII sat for him. Turnerelli’s bust of Henry Grattan, 1812/13 (marble, Rossie Priory, Perthshire, until 2021, afterwards Daniel Katz Gallery; plaster cast, NPG 1341) was praised by Canova as the best modern bust he had seen in England. He also produced some monuments, the most notable being his group of Robert Burns receiving inspiration from his spirit muse while working a plough, for the national monument at Dumfries (1816). The cast iron Stags mounted on plinths to either side of Albert Gate, Hyde Park, were very tentatively ascribed to Turnerelli in the Illustrated London News, 31 January 1863, p. 130.

Sources: O’Donoghue, F.M., rev. J. Turpin, ‘Turnerelli, Peter (1771/2–1839)’, ODNB (2004), 2006; Oxford Art Online – Grove Art Online; Roscoe, I., A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009.

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Peter Turnerelli, engraved by James Thomson, 1821 (photo: Stephencdickson, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

John Tweed (1869–1933)

Sculptor born in Glasgow. In 1890, after studying part-time at Glasgow School of Art while working as an assistant in the studios of George Lawson, James Ewing, and Pittendrigh McGillivray, Tweed moved to London. He successfully applied to work in Hamo Thornycroft’s studio and, on Thornycroft’s insistence, attended the South London Technical Art School, Lambeth, and subsequently the RA Schools. In 1893, he went to Paris where he became friends with Rodin and briefly studied at the École des Beaux-Arts under Alexandre Falguière. On his return to London, Tweed obtained a commission, through his friend Edwin Lutyens, to execute a bronze relief for Cecil Rhodes’s residence, Groote Schuur, Cape Town, South Africa; several more South African commissions followed. In 1901, Tweed was commissioned to complete Alfred Stevens’ Duke of Wellington Memorial for St Paul’s; unveiled 1912. In the same year his reredos for Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, Chelsea, was installed. Tweed’s friendship with Rodin culminated in an exhibition of the latter’s sculpture in London in 1914, which Rodin subsequently presented to the nation (the 18 sculptures are in the V&A Museum). The style of Tweed’s many public statues – mostly ‘men of action’ – is typified by what The Times referred to as ‘bluff common sense’. The most important are Lieutenant-Colonel Benson, 1904, Hexham, Northumberland; Charles Compton, 3rd Baron Chesham, 1910, Aylesbury, Bucks; Captain Cook, 1912, Whitby, Yorks (replica, 1914, Melbourne, Australia); and Lord Clive, 1912, Sir George White, 1922, and Lord Kitchener, 1926, all London. Tweed’s ‘masculine’ style also found an outlet in war and regimental memorials, such as the Rifle Brigade Memorial, 1925, London; Barnsley War Memorial, 1925; and the Peers’ War Memorial, 1932, Palace of Westminster. For most of his time in London, Tweed lived in Chelsea, firstly at 14A Cheyne Row then, from c.1900, at 108 Cheyne Walk – marked, since 1985, by a blue plaque (with an incorrect birth date). The John Tweed archive is at the Reading Museum.

Sources: Capon, N., John Tweed. Sculpting the Empire, Reading, 2013; Mapping Sculpture; Stocker, M., ‘Tweed, John (1869–1933)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; The Times, 13 November 1933, p. 19 (obit.).

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John Tweed, Bassano Ltd., 1921, whole-plate glass negative (photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London)