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Little Emperor - Canary Wharf

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

AN EXHIBITION of work by Grenville Davey, Little Emperor, is on display at Canary Wharf (in the Lobby of One Canada Square) until March 14, 2008. Davey’s first solo exhibition in London for at least ten years, it features ten new sculptures that he made during 2007.

The exhibition grew from Davey’s initial proposal to make an installation of etched copper tiles in the Lobby. Enthused by the project, he worked on other ideas for sculptures that seem not quite familiar, but which are clearly rooted in his early practice. The works are more playfully developed, fresh and strikingly confident workings of sketchbook drawings made and refined during a period of lengthy reflection.

A grant from the Arts Council England, and support from the company ProEtch, gave Davey resources to make the work, which he wished to see in a space outside the gallery system, adding yet another challenge to the project.

However, most important are the sculptures that have come out of a period of quiet contemplation – they are firm statements, borne of secure maturity. Davey’s range of imagery and concepts for sculpture has clearly increased over the years, while the familiar form of the drum takes on different meanings, painted in lively colour, and with the form subtly altered.

There are sculptures that combine both highly crafted and found industrial objects, and occasionally domestic items. On a large scale the work is truly impressive, the smaller pieces having particular intensity.

Talking about his experience making this group of sculptures, Davey said, “Associations between the works developed as they co-existed in the studio over a considerable period of time and they share some practical or common sense attitudes to their own place in a shifting hierarchy.”

Little Emperor is a title used for a sculpture some time past – Davey revisits titles often. Each work, as it is made, is given the intensity of care and attention disposed by fond parents and grandparents on an only child.

NB: On Tuesday, February 12 at 1.15pm, Curator Ann Elliott will talk about the exhibition with the artist. Although free, it is advisable to call the Canary Wharf Public Art office to reserve a ticket – on 020 7418 2257.

Times: Monday to Friday – 5.30am to midnight; Saturday and Sunday – 7am to 11.30pm.

Little Emperor is part of Sculpture in the Workplace.