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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Ronald Pope (1920–1997)

Sculptor, painter and teacher born in Westbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire. He took an engineering course at Derby College of Technology, gaining his degree in 1941 and going on to work for a time in the tool design office at Rolls-Royce. He then studied at Derby College of Art, 1943–45, and at the Slade School of Fine Art, 1945–48 (transferring from painting to sculpture in his second year), where he was taught by A.H. Gerrard, Randolph Schwabe and F.E. McWilliam, and won a prize for carving in stone. In 1946–48 he was also studying ceramics at Woolwich Polytechnic under Heber Mathews. Pope took part-time posts teaching sculpture and ceramics at Lonsdale College of Higher Education, Derby, and the University of Nottingham, allowing himself sufficient time to pursue his own work. Amongst his more notable public commissions are a wall relief, Family of Man, for the entrance to Derby Museum and Art Gallery, and Walking Figures, a wall relief in welded aluminium for Spondon County Secondary School, Derbyshire, both 1964; a St Catherine at the Cross, 1963–65, on the Church of St Catherine of Siena, Sheffield (for architect Sir Basil Spence); and Five Bishops, 1974, a wall sculpture in welded phosphor bronze for Hertford Civic Centre. He had an exhibition at the Alwin Gallery, 1984, and others at the Yew Tree Gallery, Ingleby, and the Ninety-Three Gallery, Derby. The Derby Museum and Art Gallery mounted a retrospective in 1998 and has a selection of his work in its permanent collection; the Watford Museum also has a significant collection of Pope’s small bronzes.

Bibliography: D. Buckman, Artists in Britain since 1945 (2 vols: A–L, M–Z), Bristol, 2006; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Leicestershire and Rutland, Liverpool, 2000, pp. xvii, 41–42, 283–84; Derby Museum and Art Gallery (typed hand-out for 1998 solo exh.); Ronald Pope website; W.J. Strachan, Open Air Sculpture in Britain, London, 1984, pp. 131, 167, 270; D. White and E. Norman, Public Sculpture of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, Liverpool, 2015, pp. 199, 203.

Terry Cavanagh, 2000; revised, May 2024