Glorious sculpture revelations on BBC television

The sculpture series on BBC Four is terrific. For one who has only recently started trying to comprehend what sculpture is all about, the programmes are gorgeously revealing. Henry Moore stroked his mother’s hip, Anthony Caro has never learned properly how to weld, David Nash was inspired by sloping heaps of slate in Wales. The sheer variety of types of sculpture is bewildering. Canova produced astonishing beauty carving in marble, making stone seem just like human flesh. How much of a privilege is it even to know his Three Graces are in the National Gallery of Scotland, just down the road from where I live in Edinburgh?
Where greatness lies in sculpture is far too big a question for my beginner’s understanding. But where does skill in sculpture lie, it seems to be so many things? It was fascinating to watch the BBC’s ‘How to Get a Head in Sculpture’. Three extraordinarily skilled artists modelled actor David Thewlis and produced with clay in their hands three so different things—to my eye, a visual likeness as a classic bust, a deified relief for a new minted coin, and a distilled essence of human person with barely a visual likeness at all! Each artist seemed to capture something their eye could see, which they put into physical form. It was more than using skill of the hands, was it seeing with the mind, is this an essential in being a sculptor? And how much more is there in what they do …? There are more programmes still to come!