About Ian Rank-Broadley

photo by Peter Searle, model Sam Bloomfield

The making of images has been central to my life. From an early age a compulsion to render in three dimensions has been imperative. The art of creating an image, shaman-like, which would posses qualities that exist in real life translated into a permanent state, was of immense importance to me.

As a student in the 1970¹s I realised a great deal of what passed for sculpture possessed none of the qualities which I was seeking. I knew that I had to start at the very beginning: for me this meant many long hours looking at and studying the model. The form and articulation of the figure absorbed me entirely. Over the years I gradually began to understand the body intuitively and so I could dispense with the model. The remembered image became the focus of my attention.

photo by Peter Searle, model Sam Bloomfield

The naked figure, whether in the studio or on the beach, has always fascinated me. It is a subject that everyone can relate and respond to in their own way, often without conceptualising or intellectualising. That is the way I prefer to do it. There is a deeper response to the illusive and resonating qualities of the body in art.

The choice of the male figure / nude as a dominant motif was made quite early when I realised that the female nude had, to a large extent, been robbed of its power by the commercial world of advertising, whereas the the male nude still retained a power that could excite, grab attention and shock. The reaction of the spectator to the male figure was stronger, whether out of competition, fear or embarrassment. It proved to be a potent image. For me, the sculptor, this fact reinforced the work with a greater resonance and meaning.

photo by Ashley Hatton

The manipulation of material to create an image is the essence of the sculptor¹s craft. My ‘feel’ of the material, whether it be clay, wax, plaster or bronze informs the outward appearance of the sculpture. The tactile and plastic qualities are an important element in the way the sculpture is constructed. In the right light clay has the qualities of flesh and can be made to imitate the tautness of the athlete¹s thigh or the loose folds of flesh of an aged torso. It is the verisimilitude of the material that gives life to the surface of the work.

The act of drawing has also made a great contribution to my work. Here the initial investigation of an idea or one particular model plays its part. Long before any clay is applied to the armature, my eye will travel across the form and my hand records the nervous reaction to the stimuli. The drawing and re-drawing of the image from every angle begins, in my mind, to build an understanding of the three dimensional.