'South of the River', 1975-6, by Bernard Schottlander, a stainless steel sculpture set into concrete paving slabs with a raked block of polished granite and inscribed plaques. Commissioned by Eugene Rosenberg for the front façade at Becket House, of 1974.
Reasons for Designation
'South of the River' 1975-6, by Bernard Schottlander is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Artistic interest: as a sculpture of high artistic and aesthetic quality, well-composed in its design, form and use of materials;
* Historic interest: as a piece commissioned by a commercial client and highly regarded modernist architect from an internationally renowned sculptor and industrial designer, representative of a recurrent theme in his oeuvre of adorning public places and corporate buildings with his art;
* Sculptural association: as an example of the collaborative work of Schottlander and Rosenberg commissioned to stand at Becket House and as a piece of art inspired by the work of a respected anthropologist and ethnographer.
The period after 1945 saw a shift from commemorative sculpture and architectural enrichment to the idea of public sculpture as a primarily aesthetic contribution to the public realm. Sculpture was commissioned for new housing, schools, universities and civic set pieces, with the counties of Hertfordshire, London and Leicestershire leading the way in public patronage. Thus public sculpture could be an emblem of civic renewal and social progress. By the late C20 however, patronage was more diverse and included corporate commissions and Arts Council-funded community art. The ideology of enhancing the public realm through art continued, but with divergent means and motivation.
Visual languages ranged from the abstraction of Victor Pasmore and Phillip King to the figurative approach of Elisabeth Frink and Peter Laszlo Peri, via those such as Lynn Chadwick and Barbara Hepworth who bridged the abstract/representational divide. The post-war decades are characterised by the exploitation of new-often industrial -materials and techniques including new welding and casting techniques, plastics and concrete, while kinetic sculpture and "ready mades" (using found objects) demonstrate an interest in composite forms.
The German-born Jewish industrial designer and sculptor Bernard Schottlander was commissioned by modernist architect Eugene Rosenberg (1907-1992) to produce 'South of the River' to stand in front of his newly designed polished granite façade of Becket House, built in 1974. Rosenberg believed that art was part of the enjoyment of everyday life and that buildings provided the perfect spaces in which to house art and sculpture. He believed that contemporary art and modern architecture were complimentary to each other, stating that "architecture is enriched by art and art has something to gain from its architectural setting" (Rosenberg, 1992). Perhaps this helps to explain why he commissioned the striking three-dimensional, organic form with its sweeping curves entitled 'South of the River' for his flat, grid-like commercial office architecture at Becket House. Schottlander executed and completed the sculpture in 1975-76, inspired by photographs of ethnographic artefacts and objects taken by his friend and respected anthropologist and ethnographer Eva Meyerowitz (1899-1994). It appears to be based on a pair of large twisted bronze gold-coloured earrings, worn by women of the Fulani people in Africa as part of wedding rituals.
Bernard Schottlander (1924-1999) was born in Mainz, Germany into a Jewish family of art enthusiasts, who owned pieces by Paul Klee, Willi Baumeister and Wasilly Kandinsky amongst others. Following the rise of the Nazis, he left Germany in 1939 and arrived in Leeds where he worked in a factory as a welder during the Second World War, whilst simultaneously attending evening classes in sculpture at Leeds College of Art. In 1944 he served as part of the British Army in India and became a British citizen upon his return in 1946. Subsequently Schottlander received a grant to study sculpture for a year full-time during 1948-9 at the Anglo-French Centre in St John's Wood, London. This was followed by a course in Industrial Design at the London County Council's Central School of Arts and Crafts from 1950-51. Influenced by his training as a welder, Schottlander described himself as a designer for interiors and a sculptor for exteriors. In 1951 he began his own industrial design workshop, which proved successful among postwar architects and builders and the Council of Industrial Design. During this period he created the 'Mantis' series of lamps, inspired by both Bauhaus design principles and also the work of artists such as Alexander Calder. In 1963 he decided to concentrate solely on sculpture and had his first solo show in 1964 at the Architectural Association in London. From 1965-7 he taught courses in sculpture and metalwork at St Martin's School of Art, London. In 1965, he exhibited his work as part of the group show 'Six Artists' at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and had his second solo exhibition in 1966 at the influential Hamilton Galleries, run by art dealer Annely Juda (1914-2006). Following this Schottlander became more involved in commissioned work, creating sculpture for public buildings where both of his professions, as an industrial designer and a sculptor, were interconnected.
Schottlander's work is represented in the collections of the Arts Council of England and the City of Leicester Art Gallery. The University of Warwick's art collection also holds in its store two maquettes of Schottlander's. A selection of the artist's public sculpture can also be seen at Milton Keynes and at the University of Warwick, as well as internationally in Tübingen in Germany, Toronto in Canada and Tel Aviv in Israel.
'South of the River', 1975-76, by Bernard Schottlander.
MATERIALS: the sculptures (a pair) are cast in stainless steel. They stand balanced upon stainless steel projecting legs and a central base, set into concrete paving slabs.
DESCRIPTION: The sculpture 'South of the River' comprises a pair of corresponding organic forms, representative of a pair of Fulani earrings with their twisted designs and sweeping curves. They are set close together on a 6m wide rectangular paved area surrounded by a grass lawn of a rectangular garden terrace on the front façade of Becket House, a 1974 office block. The sculptures, which both measure 4.8m in height, are identical in size and form but vary in their positioning. The two central 'curves' of both forms face west and east respectively, with the single larger 'curves', which measure approximately 3m in width, facing each other.
A raked block constructed of polished granite (similar in colour to the building façade and low surrounding wall), is set on the north-west corner of the lawn in front of the sculpture. Affixed are two steel plaques inscribed in black capital letters. The canted north (facing the road) and west faces are identically inscribed:
"SOUTH OF THE RIVER"/ BY BERNARD SCHOTTLANDER - 1976/ BORN MAINZ GERMANY 1924 - CAST BY BRITISH STEEL.
A metal plaque fixed to the inner face of the stainless steel leg of the western-most sculpture reads:
DISTILLERY, BREWERY & CHEMICAL ENGINEERS/ JOHN DORE & CO.LTD/ STAINLESS STEEL FABRICATORS & COPPERSMITHS/ FOWLER ROAD, HAINAULT, ILFORD, ESSEX, ENGLAND/ 14 MARCH 1976.