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  • Writer's pictureRichard Atkinson - Willes

Wiltshire Life


Summer is here again, and the Talos Gallery, near Calne, is preparing to open its delightful old dairy buildings and breath-taking gardens, stocked with a new collection of sculpture and painting for the discerning art lover. The Talos Summer Exhibition has become a popular annual event, renowned for the quality and diversity of the artwork on display, and it’s delightful setting in picturesque Wiltshire countryside.

Owners Richard Atkinson-Willes and Sara Fogg have designed and planted the Talos Gallery garden from scratch and have enjoyed nurturing and watching it grow into the oasis of colour and controlled chaos that gallery visitors love.

“So much sculpture finds its final home in a garden it seems almost like its natural habitat”, says Richard. “Whether it’s a small piece acting as a feature amongst planting, or a huge statement creating a grand vista in parkland, sculpture has been placed in landscapes small and large for millennia. Fortunately, the latter application is well demonstrated by the gallery’s spectacular view of Oldbury Hillfort, the Cherhill White Horse and the stately Lansdowne Monument. Once inside, however, the scale changes and sculptures can be found in the intimate seclusion of the gallery garden, which reaches into quiet woodland behind the old farmhouse. “The garden has been laid out and planted to combine nature and art as a whole experience, with each showing off the other to its best effect”, says Richard. “Nature has, of course, taken this as a challenge and each year seems intent upon upstaging the artwork that we place in it, but that’s a conflict we are happy to encourage: despite the indignant, aesthetic stand-off occurring around them, few of the visitors who sit in our courtyard café among the wildflowers show much concern over who’s winning!”

The gallery’s close association with the Hampshire based Talos Foundry gives visitors the opportunity to see, buy and commission top quality contemporary bronze sculpture by internationally acclaimed artists. “There’s no tradition older than bronze casting, nor any known technology so instrumental in human civilisation,” says Richard, who is also director of the foundry. “Bronze brings gravitas to the objects it forms, just like the gold in a wedding ring: the message of longevity lies in the material.”

The Talos Gallery Summer Exhibition 2023 showcases the work of ten contemporary sculptors, all of whom have their work cast into bronze by Richard’s Talos Foundry. Jonathan Hateley, who exhibits widely in galleries and gardens worldwide is now highly sought after, with editions selling out quickly to his worldwide collector base. Jonathan will be showing three of his signature hand-painted bronze sculptures at Talos this year, along with a selection of studies in bronze resin.

We are also thrilled to have two brand new pieces by sculptor Mike Long, whose passion for anatomy and movement comes from his time spent with London Contemporary Dance and Ballet Rambert, where Mike studied the poise, balance and strength of the dancers. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Mike’s spectacular sculpture of a male dancer, cast by the Talos Foundry last year, or in his newest piece, “Swimmers”, which will be amongst the large bronzes in this year’s Summer Exhibition. “Swimmers” has just been patinated after an epic fortnight spent building the sinuous reed structures which support two beautifully detailed free-divers. It’s an engineering tour de force as well as the culmination of many months of study and making.

The technical mastery seen in work by sculptors like Jonathan Hateley and Mike Long owes much to the skill of the foundry’s technicians. The Talos Art Foundry is particularly fortunate to have two very experienced chasers (who assemble, finish and patinate the bronze casts) who are themselves artists: Matthew Duke and Patrick Bull.

Matt has developed a signature style of highly finished animal studies which capture the dynamism and energy of his subjects – some as tiny as mice and others as majestic as his new ‘Red Kite’, which stands two metres tall.

Both Matt and Pat are masters of the art of patination (when the bronze is heated and given its final colour). Like all artists, they love to push the boundaries of what is possible and explore ever more astonishing colour effects. Pat’s conical bird bath reflects the jewel colours of a solitary kingfisher – it’s a beautiful piece and we are so proud to feature the very latest work from these two great technicians in the Talos summer show.

It’s an exciting time in the foundry, with work by Andrzej Szymczyk and William Montgomery being cast and prepared ready for the Talos Exhibition. William, who is best known for his sculptures of African wildlife, is working on studies of very British subjects this year: Jersey calves, dancing Hares and a pair of startled Grouse, which will compliment a new collection of semi-abstract work by Oxford based sculptor Pam Foley.

It’s not surprising that this year’s exhibition also includes some powerful responses to the feeling of chaos and uncertainty left behind by the Covid pandemic. Ian Marlow’s brilliant stainless steel construction “Rising from Chaos” is his reaction to the extraordinary events of the last few years: it embodies both the turbulence that such events cause and the power of the hope, optimism, and generosity which seem to appear from nowhere to save us from ourselves.

Richard Atkinson-Willes’ “Big C” is another confirmation of our ability to rise above the maelstrom of existence, but on a much more intimate level: the sculpture chronicles a series of conversations between Richard and Rosie Wyatt (wife of sculptor Alexander Brewood) about her experience of living with cancer. In “Big C”, Richard creates a grand portrait in an ornate frame – but there’s no person in it, just a story - a poignant piece, on show for the first time a year after Rosie’s death.

It’s hard to select paintings to accompany an exhibition of bronze sculpture, not just because painting is by its nature more ephemeral, but because painters of the last 100 years have explored beyond the tradition of highly crafted painting into new, more dynamic and experimental territory.

There are exceptions, of course: Surrealism and the British Idiosyncratic artists revived many of the traditions of fine painting to bring reality to their extraordinary juxtapositions of strange objects in otherwise mundane settings, and we are very excited to be showing the work of Christopher Green, whose astonishing portfolio of work remains largely undiscovered despite its remarkable quality. Chris’ work is undeniably comparable to the greatest of the so called ‘Portal painters’, and we are delighted to be featuring a major collection of his best pieces in the Talos Gallery Summer Exhibition.

The Talos Gallery Summer Exhibition runs from 1st June to 30th July 2023

Open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11am - 5pm – no booking required

Open to pre-booked groups only on Wednesday

Closed Monday and Tuesday

Admission £5. Toilets and refreshments are available onsite. Please note that wheelchair access is difficult.

To pre-book, please visit

Talos Art Gallery is at Broads Green Farm, Heddington, Nr Calne SN11 0NX


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