Len Gifford: Figurative Sculptor and Erotic Artist….Inspiration for my photography
Today I tavelled down to Milton Keynes to talk to figurative sculptor Len Gifford about his work. I recently saw Len on a television programme and decided to get in touch. Lens sculpture is a bit different from your normal run of the mill stuff and much of it does have an erotic flavour. His work is about movement and the human body. Throughout his workshop, studio and gardens there are sculptures of various shapes and sizes. They all try to capture the soft, round curves found in the female form. Len also works for a company called Rootstein making the original sculptures for display mannequins.
As I spent the afternoon with Len discussing his work I felt at ease. He allowed me to roam from room to room and explore the numerous sculptures in his almost fairytale garden. He was happy to answer the many questions which I had. I found some common ground with Len (as like I am at present) he did a BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art at Leicester University. He has led a very interesting life. He initially studied civil and structural engineering and went on to design East Cliff Viaduct at Dover Harbour. However, his true passion was with sculpture and he now works from his home workshop producing these fabulous works of art.
Len holds an exhibition each year in his garden (which covers approx 1 acre) where much of his work is on open display. I have been invited to attend and look forward to seeing much more of his excellent work. It really does need to be seen to be believed. The sheer size of some of these sculptures is breathtaking along with the great attention to detail.
So why as a photographer am I visiting a sculptor you may ask? Well when I was at college two years ago people were complaining and wondering why we had to do fine art on a Thursday. This involved sketching, painting and making paper collages to name but a few tasks. Everything except using a camera. The idea was that it taught us about shape, tone, form, scale, texture and lots of other artistic essentials that as photographers we need. It helps to develop our creative side. I for one fully understood why this was so important. I am a lot more stronger technically than I am creatively and I know that I need to do something to balance this. Hence why I decided to visit Len. Len is the opposite to me. He is superb creatively yet is the first to admit that he struggles technically when it comes to creating the image exactly how he wants it. Who knows, at the rate at which camera technology is developing maybe there will not be much technically that we need to know. The camera will may well do it all for us. The creative side however will still require our own personal vision of how ‘we’ view the subject. This is what makes us individual as artists and that will never change.