'Former blacksmith, former architect, he is essentially a man of metal. His early work was smithied from iron; his more recent welded steel. He first construed the volumes and the masses of a figure in terms of structure-in-space. These figures were a little stiff, a little static and they showed Picasso's influence. But in the last few years a change has come. As theme, the figures often now gives way to insects and to birds. Emerging from metallic forms, these are half-realized and half-ambiguous, as in a drawing by Paul Klee. The forms themselves are partly open, partly closed; and they are so organic that they seem to have grown there. Welding not only gives a lively flicker to the surfaces, it lets the sculptor throw far more vitality into the work. Now one sees that there is power there, power to transform a strong affect toward nature into a sculptural form and out of that in turn make plastic poetry'. (see J. Thwaites, loc. cit.).
The present work was constructed a year after Woman, 1949 (Tate Gallery, London) and followed on from Torso, 1949-50 (Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo). It pre-empted Woman Standing, 1951-52 (Museum of Modern Art, New York) and Birdcage, 1951 (Festival of Britain, London). Butler also won Grand Prize in The Unknown Political Prisoner Sculpture Competition in 1953. The project was never realised full-scale, however, it squarely set Butler's reputation on the international stage.
'Butler's phrase the 'denial of the value of mass' is the key to his initial approach to making sculpture - sculpture conceived not as a solid, monumental, essentially static object but as dynamic movement, energy, thrust. He chose to represent such restles physical forces in images of 'individual people', as he called his figures, which symbolised most poignantly the transience of life but were also a means of coming to terms with his own feelings of frustration and absurdity. He made sculpture because he had to'. (see R. Calvocoressi, Reg Butler, Tate Gallery exhibition catalogue, 1983, p.10).
From 1950 to 1953 he was the Gregory Fellow at Leeds University. In the 1952 he was one of eight British sculptors to exhibit at the Venice Biennale; he exhibited alongside the work of Robert Adams, Kenneth Armitage, Lynn Chadwick, Geoffrey Clarke, Bernard Meadows, Eduardo Paolozzi and William Turnbull.