Degree Speeches
Summer 2003

Lynn Chadwick, CBE, RA

Public Orator, Dr Colin Rhodes, presented the widow of the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Tuesday 15 July at 10.30am.

Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, honoured guests, ladies, gentlemen and graduates, it is with a mixture of immense pride and sadness that I stand here today to present to you one of our most important artists of the period since 1945, the sculptor Lynn Chadwick.

Born in Barnes, London on 24 November 1914, Chadwick attended Merchant Taylors’ School. In spite of early artistic aspirations he subsequently trained and worked in the more financially secure occupation of draughtsman in various architectural firms in London. As with so many others of his generation, though, the coming of war changed many things. It brought active service (in the Fleet Air Arm) and the acquisition of new skills. At its ending a new world was unveiled, stripped of old certainties, but ripe with opportunity. Though he had never attended art school, Chadwick now quickly found himself drawn toward the vocation that had been a dormant desire since the early 1930s.

His first artworks were mobiles, made of wood and wire, and conceived as elements of interior design projects, but as his ambition and others’ interest in his work increased he sought to make more substantial objects. He realised that he did not have the requisite skills, so with characteristic practicality he enrolled on an industrial training course in the techniques of welding metals. This avowedly ‘hands-on’ approach to fabrication was to have long term effects on the nature of his art, ensuring at first its unique quality among his contemporaries and subsequently a continued individuality and articulation of a personal language.

Chadwick’s rise to public prominence was rapid, culminating in winning the International Prize for Sculpture at the 1956 Venice Biennale in the face of stiff competition from already well-established figures like Alberto Giacometti, César and Germaine Richier. A steady flow of commissions, honours and private sales followed.

At Loughborough we are blessed with the presence of one of the artist’s most important pieces, The Watchers, produced in 1960. One of an edition of only three, Chadwick personally supervised its installation at the very heart of the campus, where these figures still look out protectively across the town and Borough of Charnwood.

His wide-ranging experiences and interests, which also encompassed engineering and design, make him a fitting role model for students across the University. We were therefore thrilled when Lynn Chadwick agreed earlier this year to receive an Honorary Degree from Loughborough in recognition of his contribution to art and the cultural richness of this country. It is our great sorrow that we will be unable to bestow this honour upon him personally. He has left behind a loving family and none have been more supportive than Eva, his wife, who represents him here today. Artists leave behind not only deeds, they give us actual things, which speak eloquently of their makers. This is why Eva and his daughter Sarah have kindly made possible an exhibition of Lynn Chadwick’s work in the LUSAD Gallery. I would urge everyone to make the short journey across Epinal Way to see it after this Congregation. In this way we can feel Lynn Chadwick’s continued presence.

Chancellor, I have the honour to present you and the University Lynn Chadwick for the posthumous Degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, and will call upon Mrs Eva Chadwick to accept the award.

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