Denis Mitchell

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Denis Mitchell  Empty Denis Mitchell

Post by studio-pots June 4th 2022, 3:05 pm

Denis Mitchell was born in Wheldstone in 1912 but when barely a year old moved to South Wales with his mother. There he met and became friends with Dylan Thomas but moved to St. Ives with his elder brother when 18 years old and remained in Cornwall until his death in 1993.

Mitchell was Barbara Hepworth's first assistant and worked with her for ten years but was an important abstract sculptor in his own right.

He was a founder member of the Penwith Society of Arts and its Chairman for 2 years in the late 1950s.

In 1959 he left Barbara Hepworth's employment and for the first time made sculptures of his own in bronze rather than wood that he tended to use before that date.

Denis Mitchell  Dm_cat10

The front cover of the exhibition catalogue to mark the 80th birthday of Denis Mitchell entitled, "Drawings, Painting, Sculpture 1932 -1992" held at the Penwith Galleries, St. Ives in 1992.


Last edited by studio-pots on June 4th 2022, 3:17 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by studio-pots June 4th 2022, 3:17 pm

Denis Mitchell  Dmitch10

Denis Mitchell cast iron (+ other metal) sculpture that was originally owned by Janet Leach and was in her garden at Pottery Cottage up until her death.

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Post by croker June 4th 2022, 5:11 pm

Hi studio, I like Mitchells work ,interesting shapes and still relatively affordable but the highly polished surfaces on many of his bronzes puts me off a bit .
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Post by studio-pots June 4th 2022, 6:13 pm

I am not keen on the highly polished surfaces. Probably why I have the "big heavy lump" above.

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Post by croker June 4th 2022, 6:48 pm

How did you come to own the piece shown above?
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Post by studio-pots June 5th 2022, 3:31 pm

The sculpture was Lot 49 in a Bonhams, Knightsbridge sale in May 1998 where it was described as Interlocking Form - bronze 23 inches tall from the collection of Janet Leach.

It was bought there by Trevor Coldrey, who had started the Harlequin Gallery in 1990, and was at that time my landlord at the gallery, which was then in Greenwich High Road. I had taken over the gallery in 1999 and rented the space from Trevor, who lived above and below the gallery.

It remained with him until I bought it for what he originally paid when his downsizing began in February 2017. For him to get it from Kensington to S.E. London was not easy and likewise for me to move it around 6 miles when I bought it.

We are both interested in British mid century art as well as pottery and for me it was something to keep because I like it and the Leach Pottery connection.

I was offered over 5 times what I paid last year but it's not for sale.

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Post by 22 Crawford St. June 5th 2022, 9:37 pm

Can I ask how you moved it SP. If that is cast then it's easily 300 or 400kg? or more? Not the sort of thing you can afford to drop
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Post by studio-pots June 6th 2022, 2:04 pm

My friend and I drove over to Lewisham in my vehicle and took a low rectangular metal frame on wheels with us. We were able to "walk" it on to this and to wheel it along the garden path to the front gate. However, once there the frame on wheels was bent so much that it would be of any further use. The two men from next door to the house that we were collecting it from fortunately came out to help at this point.

However, 4 men couldn't lift it more than an inch off the ground so what next?

My friend and one of the neighbours went searching along the street and, as it was Sunday morning found a wardrobe that had be dumped and even better that it was wooden. We ripped the doors off and made a slope from the road into the back of my vehicle and the four of us were able to "walk" the sculpture up the slope and that was the first part done.

At the other end my wife, my friend and I were able to walk it down, which was easier and then walk it to where it is now.

The plan was to position it elsewhere in the garden on a plinth but we gave up on the idea very quickly.

The person who offered to buy it is an art dealer that appears on the Antiques Roadshow on occasions and, if I had said yes, he was going to use a professional team with a small crane device to do the move for him.

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Post by 22 Crawford St. June 6th 2022, 3:52 pm

I suppose if you can only get it an inch off the ground then you are unlikely to drop it. Yes I 've worked with pro art installers/movers and we had to go into a lot of detail, but then everyone wishes they had been careful after the accident.
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Post by Celtic_Fan November 19th 2023, 11:14 pm

There is website about Denis Mitchell and his work, which is done by his family.
http://denismitchell.co.uk/index.html

They tell me Denis moved his studio to Newlyn in 1967
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Post by studio-pots November 20th 2023, 8:53 am

Well spotted, Celtic_Fan, that's an extremely good resource.

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