Focus on Giles Penny
Painter, sculptor & printmaker
Born in 1962 Giles Penny is a British artist who divides his time between sculpture, painting and printmaking. He trained at The Heatherly School of Fine Art, Chelsea, Bournemouth & Poole College of Art and Newport College of Art.
His focus of expression is the human form, which acts as a vehicle to explore the interaction between physical and abstract worlds and often portrays an innocent humorous quality.
The nature of his figures remains eternally elusive and his paintings are instantly recognisable to anyone familiar with his sculpture.
Giles Penny says “I don’t like being limited to just one medium, I work on several pieces at once until something is complete. I am driven by the feeling that my next piece of work will be my finest, but when I reflect on my work over the past forty years I’ve found it’s the idea in conjunction with the making that completes the experience”
His large scale pieces can be seen in many public spaces including: Golden Square, London; Canary wharf, London; Body Shop International; Fulham Reach, London; Liminster Church, Sussex; Wolverhampton city centre; Bruton, Somerset.
British Fashion journalist, Felicity Green selected a sculpture by Giles Penny as her luxury item for Desert Island Discs.
Early Career Leading to Large Sculptures
Shortly after graduating in the late 1980's Giles Penny completed two portrait commissions: Richard Branson and Anita Roddick.
The latter would establish Giles Penny as artist in residence for the Body Shop and a private collection of work that would continue to grow over the next 20 years.
In 1990, Giles Penny created 23 large sculptures for the Body Shop Headquarters. These included full size versions of Manet' Le Dejeuner sur L'Herbe and Seurat's The Bathers (see images below).
Then in 1995 Giles Penny was commissioned to create 'Noah in a Boat', a centre piece for a lake at the Co-Op Headquarters in Rochdale. This would start a long period of looking at Noah as a subject for Giles Penny, featuring the subject in paintings, prints, plaques and also bronzes (See Bust of Noah available in our Editions Shop).
At around this time, in 1996, Giles Penny installed his first large sculpture on The Causeway roundabout, for the Arundel Festival: a 12 foot Flatman.
Over the years many other large Festival sculptures followed including Box of Birds, Man Who Caught the Sun, Miss A27 in 2000 and Waving Man in 2018 to celebrate thirty years of the Gallery Trail (see images above).
In 1999 Giles Penny placed two sculptures in Canary Wharf, London. These are Two Men on a Bench and Man with Arms Open.
Giles Penny came to the attention of the Canary Wharf Group when this work, together with another of his bronzes, Two Men on a Bench, was shown as part of the Millennium exhibition, The Shape of the Century in 1999. Both sculptures were then purchased and form part of the permanent collection of works of art on the estate.
Other public commissions followed (see images above):
1999 - Six Large Relief Panels 'Past and Present' for Norwich Union, London
2000- Man and Ball for Crest Homes, Cheltenham, Glos
2001 - Man and Globe for Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth
2004 - Flying Woman for Waitrose, Newbury
2004 - Man and Animal for Portishead Quays, Bristol
2007 - Signalman at Bluebrick Development, Wolverhampton for Whitbread Group
2007 - Man in the Wind for P&O Cruiseliner: Ventura
2009 - Rise and Shine for BBC White City
2015 - Man on Bench, Bruton, Somerset
2015 - Man and Arch, Fulham Reach for St George Developments
Giles Penny has exhibited with Zimmer Stewart Gallery since the early 2000's, most notably his 2017 solo exhibition when he introduced twelve new small sculptures (see image above).
See Giles Penny Artist page to view currently available works.
These featured subjects that he has worked on before in different ways: Flatman; Man and Shadow; Man and Reflection, Oh My Dear and Man in a Disc.
Giles Penny is always reticent to talk about his work, saying little and letting it speak for itself.
We can say there is an element of self-portraiture, humour and simplicity in form.
The artist has also resisted comparisons with other artists, but accepts the influence of Italian sculptor Giacomo Manzù.
Manzù intended the simplified human figures for which he ultimately became known to act as widely accessible symbols with allegorical meaning.
Giles Penny has also exhibited with Beaux Arts (London and Bath); Fresh Air Sculpture Exhibition (Gloucestershire); Limehouse Gallery (London); Thompsons Gallery (London); and has had work in Broomhill and Newby Hall Sculpture Parks.
In early 2022 he had a one man at the Jerram Gallery and three works accepted for the 169th Royal West of England Academy later this year.
Current Work - printmaking
In addition to making large sculptures for commissions and smaller bronzes for collectors Giles Penny also finds time to paint and make screen prints.
In fact working in different mediums, often at the same time, with the same subject matter allows Giles Penny to fully develop the concepts and so complete each satisfactorily.
His most recent screen print looks at the taboo subject of the Fart, this is a rework of a 2009 linocut with the same name (see above).
The above selection of prints represent his works since 2018, a selection of these are displayed at The Steakist restaurant in Arundel for the 2022 Arundel Festival. The restaurant offers two nights with a special meal, wine tasting and talk on Giles Penny by James Stewart, curator at Zimmer Stewart Gallery.
Below we present a collection of earlier linocuts and lithographs:
View the currently available Giles Penny editions (both prints and sculptures) in our Editions Shop.
Giles Penny's paintings are much sought after because there a few of them in as much as they are perfect representations of the artist's expression.
Contact us to find out more about Giles Penny's works (paintings, sculptures and prints) and how you can view them.