Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

The View Spring 2012

A life in sculpture

Artist John Atkin

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

Michelangelo (1475 - 1564)

Loughborough sculptor John Atkin has spent his adult life finding the statue within the block of stone. He has carved out a hugely successful career as an internationally acclaimed artist and academic. Today his work, embedded in the traditions of assemblage, collage and the found object, can be seen throughout the UK and across the world.

John has been part of the University’s School of the Arts for more than 19 years, developing his own creative style alongside that of the thousands of students he has worked with over the last two decades. But it was in 1982 that his journey as a successful artist truly began, following a meeting with the world famous sculptor Henry Moore.

“This was a sliding-doors moment in my development, which shaped a significant aspect of my career”

John met Moore whilst trying to secure financial support to study sculpture at Columbia University in New York. Moore invited him to his studios and as a result John secured a place at the Royal College of Art (RCA) under the wing of Professor Phillip King, who had been one of Moore’s assistants in the 1950s. John’s time at the RCA was personally funded by Moore.

“This was a sliding-doors moment in my development, which shaped a significant aspect of my career,” John explains. The Sculpture School at the RCA admitted only five or six students a year at the time and I managed to get a place through the generosity of Henry Moore.”

Since his time at the RCA John’s career has gone from strength to strength. As well as exhibiting in countless museums and galleries across the UK, in recent years John’s art has also moved into the public realm with several large scale commissions.

“Initially I wanted to explore ways that I could see my work within the context of the landscape and in order to do that I needed to work on a large scale and with materials that would withstand a range of climatic conditions,” John explains.

“In 2003, I was given the opportunity by Ipswich Borough Council to make what was to be the first of a series of landmark artworks, which contributed to an understanding of the cultural and social history of a space, through using objects that are associated with the local area. This led onto a number of other commissions focussing on the identity of a place through the language of sculpture.”