Friday, 16 October 2009

Albany House, Petty France SW1

The figures of Man and Woman guarding the front door of Albany House, a dull government building in Petty France, were cast in bronze by Willi Soukop in 1963.
Soukop's story is a remarkable tale of triumph over adversity. His father was a Moravian shoemaker living in Vienna, who was wounded in the First World War and committed suicide as a result. As an apprentice engraver, Willi earned so little he had to work nights carving umbrella handles for a local trader. He eventually got in at the Vienna Academy of Fine Art in 1928. There, he met an Englishwoman who persuaded him to come over here in 1935. He started a studio in Dartington, home of lefty aspirational art. Unfortunately the idyll was interruped in 1940 when he was interned in Canada for nine months as an enemy alien.
Soukop taught Elizabeth Frink for a while, and you can see something of her in the strange mutilated human forms pinned onto the stonework like monster bronze insects.

1 comment:

CarolineLD said...

A fascinating story - but there's something very disturbing about those figures.