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Cubitts x Henry Moore Institute: modernist approaches

For our next conversation with Cubitts The Modern Spectacle Maker we discuss the theme of modernist approaches. We take a look at the sculptor Bernard Schottlander, discussing the photographs of his public sculptures held in the Archive of Sculptors’ Papers.

Errin Hussey (Archivist, Henry Moore Institute): These photographs are from the archive of Bernard Schottlander – he did a lot of modernist public sculpture. Schottlander created his own foundry and steelworks, and made a lot of commissioned pieces. 

Errin: These photographs are more an expression of what he wanted to do – he wanted sculpture to be part of the landscape and part of people’s lives as shapes that you would never get to interact with otherwise.  

There are pictures of children climbing all over them and being part of the new forms and shapes. A lot of the time Schottlander’s work was placed in new places like Milton Keynes, where there wasn’t any traditional sculpture, places open to this modernist movement and the new principles of forms and shapes. 

You can clearly see how large the sculptures were from these photographs, which adds to their impressiveness. 

Cubitts: Yes, they’re beautiful shapes. Do you see a lot of modernism in Leeds?

Errin: It is interesting - Leeds has a real mixture of traditional sculpture alongside some modernist principles. A lot of the universities have very modernist design. Interestingly enough Bernard Schottlander studied at Leeds College of Art, although there aren’t any of his sculptures in Leeds.

Cubitts: How interesting - there are a few specific buildings where you can really see that modernist influence.

Errin: Out of all the Cubitts stores, what is your favourite design that emulates those modernist principles?

Cubitts: There are lots! It is a really big feature of Cubitts. In our Cambridge store, the doors that open into the optometry room are taken from the Phenella building that is completely modernist in its approach.

We put items in very specific places – it is obsession with detail that we try to emulate, and create something that you don’t necessarily notice but you feel like it creates that atmosphere, which is quite like sculpture in that sense. That object, that thing that ties into different elements within a space. It is really interesting relating it back to Schottlander, and seeing how he fit his sculpture into the natural world. How do you place it?

Errin: Yes, definitely – and also looking at what it is bouncing off.

Cubitts: Exactly, because nothing is isolated. 

Errin: Even in the landscape, things are slotted in. 

Cubitts: That is the principle behind all of the stores as well, very similar to Bernard Schottlander - which is why each of our stores looks completely different.


Our Bernard Schottlander Collection

Bernard Schottlander (1924-1999) was born in Mainz, Germany and came to Leeds in 1939 as a Jewish refugee. During the Second World War Schottlander worked as a welder in a factory and took evening classes studying sculpture at Leeds College of Art. The skills he acquired during his time in the factory proved to have a lasting influence on his work as a modernist artist. 

Using metalwork as his medium, Schottlander had a successful career as a designer; he produced ashtrays for the National Theatre, several chairs and lamps, and Evening Standard news-stands which are still in use today. 

Schottlander described himself as a designer for interiors and sculptor for exteriors. In 1963, however, he chose to concentrate solely on sculpture and had his first solo exhibition in 1964 at the Architectural Association in London. In 1965 he took up a position at St Martin’s School of Art teaching metalwork. 

The Bernard Schottlander collection in the Archive of Sculptors’ Papers holds 14 boxes in total, containing photographs, negatives and 35mm slides. These record finished sculptures, the construction and installation of sculptures, Schottlander’s studio, maquettes and many other personal photographs taken by the artist. There is a wealth of imagery held in the collection, with over 100 photographs providing valuable insight into the life and work of the artist. 


Visiting the Archive of Sculptors' Papers

If you would like to plan a visit to the Archive, please browse the online catalogue and then contact our Archivist Errin Hussey to discuss the material you are interested in.

The archive is open via prior appointment only, Tuesday to Friday, 10am-5pm.