‘Five Easy Pieces’: Large Abstract Sculpture Exhibition

– Posted on Tuesday 1st October 2013

‘Five Easy Pieces’, a retrospective exhibition of work by Isle of Man based artist Reg Quayle, will open at the House of Manannan in Peel on Sunday 6 October 2013. 

The exhibition will contain selected pieces of large abstract sculpture for which Reg is best known alongside some of his lesser known works, including photography and life drawings.

Nicola Tooms, Curator of the exhibition said:

“Manx National Heritage has a long history of working with both local and internationally important artists.  We are particularly pleased to be working with Reg Quayle, who has influenced the work of so many of the artists we know today”. 

Whilst now in his early 80s, Reg Quayle began studying art at the age of 33, when he undertook an Art & Design Foundation course at the Douglas School for Art.  In 1966 he went on to further study at Nottingham School of Art, after a chance visit resulted in an interview and offer to study Fine Art, Art History and Architecture.  He thrived at Nottingham where the well-funded course afforded students generous access to the materials required to make their work. This environment gave him the opportunity to grow as an artist as he developed sculpture in the idiom of hard-edge, modular, abstraction.

During this time Reg also exhibited in several shows in Nottingham. His work was also selected for the prestigious ‘New Contemporaries’ exhibition at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester in 1966.

In a statement from the time he describes his working methods:

“I like working with industrial materials, I enjoy the scale – they have a weight a presence of their own, they give off an energy you can tap into. I have used more conventional materials like clay for building up and modelling; plaster and bronze for casting; steel plate, stainless steel, spring steel, wood, rigging wire and fittings and gas and electric welding for constructions.”

In 1970 after a year living and working in London, Reg moved to Leeds to undertake a teaching diploma at Leeds College of Art. Whilst there, he continued to make sculpture and exhibited his work at various locations around Yorkshire, including a solo show at the University of York.

Undeterred by a lack of exposure for contemporary art on the Isle of Man, Reg returned to the Island in 1971, continuing to work as an artist, whilst assuming the role of arts promoter, exhibition curator and events and film society administrator.

He drew together an informal network of his contemporaries on the Island and continued to maintain links with others elsewhere. This group of artists, coordinated by Reg, worked together to stage the first major exhibition of contemporary art on the Island.

Exhibition Number One opened in 1980, utilising the vacated offices of the Isle of Man Times on Athol Street, just down the road from the Grosvenor pub, where many of the artists would meet to socialise and share their frustrations about the lack of support and interest in contemporary Manx art by the establishment.

Reg’s promotional work resulted in the support of local estate agents, the Isle of Man Arts Council and other sponsors for this and other projects. He not only ran the Dream Factory Film society for many years but also organised exhibitions which included his own work but also set up Artsratagem, which organised local exhibitions of national and international artists including Surrealist artists Man Ray and Wilhelm Freddie and local artists based on and off the Island such as Michael Sandle.

His friendship with the photographer Chris Killip, curator at the Side Gallery in Newcastle, also enabled him to bring the work of internationally renowned photographers to the Island including the work of Killip, John Heartfield, Paul Strand and Weegee.

Nicola continued:

“Over the past year we have been working closely with Reg to select pieces for display in this unique exhibition, which in addition to large abstract sculptures, will feature some of his lesser well known pieces that have never been exhibited on the Isle of Man.   

It has been fascinating getting to know Reg and is inspiring to learn how much behind the scenes work he has done for raising the profile of contemporary art on the Isle of Man”. 

‘Five Easy Pieces’ is on display from Sunday 6th October 2013 until Sunday 2nd March 2014 at the House of Manannan in Peel, open daily from 10am to 5pm.  Admission to the exhibition gallery is free.



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