John Bridgeman 1916-2004
Born in Suffolk, John Bridgeman showed early promise in drawing and joined Colchester School of Art at the age of 14. He was awarded a scholarship to the Royal College of Art but his studies were delayed until after the War when he was awarded the Otto Beit Award for Sculpture and a Rome Scholarship. A teacher of great integrity and dedication, he was appointed Head of Sculpture at Birmingham School of Art in 1956 and was an inspiration to many generations of students for almost 30 years.
During the war he was a conscientious objector and worked amongst the chaos of the bomb sites of London, retrieving the dead from the rubble and assisting the injured. This experience left a deep scar on Bridgeman and later found expression in his sculpture which reflected his profound understanding of and compassion for the human condition.
He became actively involved in the post-war regeneration of Birmingham through several major public commissions and designed and built numerous interactive sculptures for children’s playgrounds in inner city housing estates.
Right up to the end of his life, he was continually modelling, returning again and again to the female form. Working in wax and clay for casting in lead, resin and bronze, he was extraordinarily prolific and left an impressive body of work, little of which has been exhibited before. His sculptures are striking for their immediacy, delicacy and simplicity. They embody a certain carefreeness yet at the same time possess an innate quietude and calm composure.