This exhibition at the Castlefield Gallery brings together work by two sculptors with close associations with each other, and with the city of Manchester. MICHAEL LYONS has taught sculpture at Manchester Polytechnic since the mid-seventies, and BRIAN FELL, one of his former students there, now works in a studio near the city centre.
Both sculptors work primarily in the same medium-steel-but use it to express very different temperament and interests. Living in the village of Cawood in a flat countryside of South-east Yorkshire, Michael Lyons is constantly reminded of the presence of trees and of the impact they have on the landscape. His powerful charcoal drawing of trees near his home and the Grizedale Forest in Cumbria are evidence of the deep impression they make on him. In his sculpture the sharply observed details of branch and roots, passages of light and shades, the brooding sense of moss and darkness in the midst of a forest, become absorbed in a very personal abstract idiom.
BRIAN FELL sculpture, by contrast, has precise, robust character of industrial machinery. Mechanical engineering, machine tools and gadgets of all kind have for a long time fascinated him, and His sculpture often evokes the forceful, deliberate motion of pistons and camshafts. He has, too, an engineer’s interest in assembly and construction, and in how the parts of his sculpture lock together and counterbalance each other. His work fully exploits the industrial associations of his material, and makes a fine complement to his colleague’s response to the power of nature.