Reflections | Michael Lloyd at 70 | Part One18 May 2020
This June we celebrate Michael Lloyd’s 70th birthday with a collection of new work; each a love letter to the flora and fauna that continues to inspire his work. Explore Reflections | Michael Lloyd at 70 and discover his new collection online. We have also produced a series of blogs with imagery, film, music and words from Michael Lloyd himself.
Please enjoy part one that delves into Michael's early years when a passion for working with metal was ignited. Michael also focuses on one of the seven pieces created for this exhibition - Field of Gold.
'Where does a story really begin, for wherever the narrator starts there are the significant events that happened before hand, shaping the future tale, influencing the design and direction of travel. With that in mind the seed of these seven pieces was planted about 70 years ago for I believe it was in my first decade that my passions and aesthetic reasoning were formed. Here I reflect on the different facets that brought them into being…
Shortly before my tale begins my parents returned from India bringing with them the adventures of an exotic existence: house boats on Lake Dahl, Maharaja's palaces, Naga head hunters and life in Kashmir, the garden of the world. These stories painting a sensual picture that was a complete contrast to my childhood experience, for my parents had rented a small farm and rambling old mansion on the edge of the New Forest where we lived in penniless and spartan grandeur.
The farm was attached to an estate that was slow to embrace progress, cottages of paraffin oil lamps and earth closets, industry horse and man powered, and for a child there was the complete freedom to explore the vast world around them, the keepers gibbets of owl, jay stoat and any other perceived threat to the game birds, the few fingered operators of the village saw mill, the smithy, the carpentry shop supplying all needs from coffins to elm wheelbarrows. Self-sufficiency and continuity were taken for granted. The Saxon church had been there for one thousand years and it was unthinkable to believe it would not be there in another thousand years.
Life in this rural idyll was brought to an abrupt halt when my father was asked to join the family business of wrought iron chain making at Cradley Heath. This firm had also been slow to embrace technology and at the age of fourteen, I entered a scene that could have been lifted from William Bell Scott's 1861 painting of the foundry on Newcastle Quayside; three blacksmiths working in perfect harmony heat welding an anchor chain. Unknown to me at the time, the romance of the craft of moving metal by heat, hammer and hand must have seeped into my soul.
By the time I was 19 the business was no longer viable, the smithy demolished and reconstructed at the Avoncroft museum of buildings as the last example of a hand forged chain makers shop. I was by this time an art student studying product design, becoming increasingly disenchanted with industry and consumerism, my salvation came in winning a competition to design an exhibition for Liberties of London, part of the brief being a visit to Merton Abbey were William Morris produced much of his block printing on textiles. This was my introduction to the arts and crafts movement, which I instantly embraced and led to an acknowledgement that I had a strong desire to work metal by hand.
A wonderful training followed where I was privileged to bask under the guidance of Derrick Birch at the Vittoria Street School of Silversmithing, Birmingham, and Backri Yehia and Gerald Benny at the Royal College of Art London where Malcolm Appleby, in the role of visiting tutor, spread his very broad net of influence. In both colleges I drew upon my love of natural history and the increasing compulsion to take an inanimate piece of silver and try and bring it to life; to add another dimension or level of consciousness that the recipient would reclaim - an aim which has followed me throughout my career.
I have found it rare for an idea to come to a conclusion with the making of a single piece. Like any stimulating conversation, the journey is passed into fresh pastures of thought, a journey I have been privileged to take and hopefully travel upon until the end of the road.'
- Michael Lloyd, March 2020
Explore the exhibition | part one
In this short film below we hear directly from Michael Lloyd as he introduces his exhibition and welcomes us to the beautiful landscape surrounding his home and studio in Dumfries and Galloway. We are also introduced to Field of Gold, one of the key pieces that features in his exhibition. Enjoy this short film including poetry and music from Michael himself.
For further details discover Michael Lloyd's online exhibition - Reflections | Michael Lloyd at 70 where you can view the entire collection.
field of gold
Now, you paint this field all gold, companions gone. No cornflower, corncockle poppy, pimpernel. No song of linnet, corn bunting flown, mono gold, mono life; a lesser harvest for my sons to reap.Michael Lloyd, Field of Gold, 2020
For further details explore Michael Lloyd's online exhibition - Reflections | Michael Lloyd at 70 where you can view the entire collection.