At almost six feet tall, Time Boy is a magnificent example of Emily Young’s unique ability to carve serene human forms from ancient hardstones. Characteristic of her most celebrated pieces, in this work, a face imbued with a timeless quality emerges from the exquisite structure of the marbled travertine.
Carved in the first year after Young’s move to the Convent of Santa Croce in the Maremma, Time Boy is infused with the inspiration Young found in the heritage of the surrounding Tuscan landscape and the convent’s religious history. In an old quarry nearby, on the side of a dormant volcano - Mount Amiata, the sculptor sources her monumental blocks of volcanic stone.
Italy and its intertwinement with ancient history has always fascinated Young: ‘My family lived in Rome for a while, when I was a very young child. I remember the view from the windows of the red city spreading out away to the horizon, the ruins all around. I saw the remains of the ancient city, and the passage of time, manifested in stone. The smells and look and sounds, the feel, of this time in Italy wove their way into my growing neural pathways and stayed’ (E. Young quoted in Emily Young: A Private Sales Exhibition, Christie’s, London, 2018, p. 12).
In few other artist’s works does material play such an important role. Fascinated by the heritage of these stones, their almost unfathomable age and the ancient processes that shaped and created them, Young often leaves whole sections of their surfaces unworked, restraining herself from altering the natural beauty she finds. Instead she relishes the idiosyncrasies, sinuous ripples and pockets of colour that reveal themselves underneath her tools, each mark highlighting the millions of years and long forgotten geological events that have led them to reach their current configuration.
Time Boy’s delicately marbled veining twists sinuously in line with the curvature of the figure’s face, while a pocket of crystalline ochre reveals itself, telling of the many millennia that this stone has experienced. In being so clearly hewn from the ground, the present work encourages the viewer to meditate on our relationship with the natural world and with the passage of time. As Young comments: ‘Working with a piece of stone becomes like a dance made of one small human and an ancient rock. It’s made of my amazement at the beauty of the stone and its history, the stone’s rawness and intransigence as a material, created by nature’ (E. Young quoted in The Metaphysics of Stone: Emily Young, The Fine Art Society, 2012, n.p.).
Young brings stone carving to the forefront of British contemporary sculpture, building on, and reinventing, the oeuvre of 20th Century giants such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Her work is held by many private and public collections, with permanent installations on show at St Paul’s Churchyard, the Imperial War Museum, Salisbury Cathedral and St James's Church, Piccadilly. She has exhibited at many prestigious museums including The Getty Center, Los Angeles, The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, and The Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids.
We are very grateful to Emily Young for her assistance in cataloguing this lot.
Please note that this work will be exhibited in St. James's Square for the duration of the pre-sale viewing 3-7 June 2023.