Monday, 2 June 2014


 Inspired by... is the title of an exhibition hosted by Morley College and open until June19th. It's organised in partnership with the V & A (Victoria and Albert Museum) and NIACE (National Centre for Adult Continuing Education). It celebrates work from across the UK, from London to Penzance, Aberystwyth and Edinburgh.

Morley is 5 minutes walk from The Old Vic theatre and a mere 10-12 minutes down Westminster Bridge Road from Big Ben itself.

Contrapuntal by Nicholas Baelz

I first caught sight of this sculpture in the window of Morley Gallery. What could any passer by do but walk straight into the Gallery? 

My first impression was that it presented a conundrum. Chrome cylinders do not sit demurely on a slope, any more than ball bearings can resist the urge to scatter in every direction. And how do those welcoming, gracious curves - so solid, so present - live together in harmony in such a way that you cannot imagine a different configuration?

Nick Baelz says "I do not draw a work first, rather my work flow is organic; a piece grows intuitively from a basic concept or inspiration. In this case my choice of material was mild steel,which I subsequently painted, and a chrome sphere. The steel was bent in a roller, and after experimenting with various curves and shapes I chose those that flowed and welded them together". 

He goes on to explain the mystery of that glorious silver ball: "The sphere is attached in such a way as to make the join invisible and positioned to ensure the work balances. The class has helped me complete this work by providing me with the technical skills needed for metalwork, encouraged me to develop self-criticism and the support to explore my creative imagination without the fear of failure". 

The supportive class he refers to is at Morley College, which is celebrating its 125th year. I only discovered after I'd made my selection that although there were entries from adult colleges across the UK, the four works I chose were from Morley students. 

Paimio Armchair 1930 by Alvar Aalto. Birch plywood and solid birch
Let the artist have the last word about what inspired him in the V&A: "I chose this piece for its beauty, simplicity and joyful vibrancy of colour. Although designed in the 1930s it still looks contemporary today. I was inspired by its organic form and uplifting curves. The chair is both functional and sculptural. Being solid enough to support the human frame yet at the same time it appears seemingly weightless. It is these characteristics I have strived to reflect in my sculpture".

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