Reflection of Flight
Perspex and Bronze with a light brown and golden patina
Edition of 12
Height: 11 inches (28 cm)
Conceived 1975 and cast before the artist's death
Michael Ayrton was a true renaissance man; he was a sculptor, painter, printmaker of figures and landscapes, illustrator, draughtsman, theatrical designer, filmmaker, writer and art critic. He studied at art schools in London, lived in Vienna in 1936 and between 1937 and 1939 spent long periods in France. Here Ayrton worked in De Chirico’s studio and in 1938 went to Les Baux in Provence, with the painter John Minton. They went on to share a studio in Paris where they studied with Eugene Berman.
He greatly admired and took advice from Henry Moore, who helped with the technical development of his sculpture. Moore showed him the properties of wax and proposed the use of bones, which interested Ayrton greatly. Casts of the breastbone of a chicken are used as beasts confronting the male figure in Reflection of Flight.
Ayrton wrote: ‘The bone is so relevant to function, so absolute in shape, that it is in itself transcendental sculpture. A bone invites metamorphosis and recreates itself in the process. The skeleton of a bird can become bare trees of a mysterious landscape. Bone is the carapace of the vitals, the scaffold of action, the most lasting monument to man.’
‘To the spectator, another man’s maze does not look impenetrably intricate. It may resemble a box of reflections (as with Reflections of Flight), or a cage with invisible bars ...but to the maze maker himself his maze is an all-absorbing thing ... its geometry is ambiguous, its material, dense and solid at one moment, is illusory and transparent in the next so that its topology is obscure.’