Graham Williams

Coloured Curves, 2004, powder coated aluminium, height 66 cm, edition of 5

Pasture Piece, 1999, cor-ten steel, height 318 cm

It would be easier for me to write about my work if my original ideas were in words in the first place - usually they are not. I begin without words and without measurements. Every one of my works has a starting point; an idea hidden in it, sometimes buried very deeply. There is much that we experience that is truly abstract and it is with these feelings, sensations, emotions, understandings and observations that my work is primarily concerned.
The beginning of a work can be as simple as looking at a new leaf, or watching a dried leaf scud across a puddle in a gentle breeze. The new leaf might embody growth whilst the dried leaf has a fragility and speed totally without aggression. It is a gentle thought as the leaf passes with an invisible force pushing it. I might then relate that to human experience, for we sometimes glide involuntarily into new situations, which prove to be far,more important than we knew at the time. Eventually my image is more than a dried leaf scudding across water, for that first thought has then been augmented by other ideas.

When I begin a new work the design is a reflection of the ideas, not of the medium. Preliminary drawings on paper are only occasionally progressed beyond the noting of the idea. The real drawings arrive in my fingers, as three-dimensional models that evolve slowly and form the basis for larger explorations. Developing a drawing on paper is more likely to produce a form that only works from one view, the drawn view. I turn the models as I make them and there is seldom a front or back. As they grow bigger the forms must frequently change in order to maintain the same idea. We relate to things of our own size differently than to miniatures or giants.

Lying at the root of my personal language is an awareness of balance and implied movement, of light and s©me ways of attracting it, of the space both around and within the piece and of transparency tied to three dimensions. The far side of the piece usually plays a part in what is seen.

Light is an important element of my work. At times the stainless steel ceases for me to have the solidity of metal and becomes light itself. Seen at dusk, with the last vestiges of light still lingering, this steel has the ability to collect and reflect the diminishing light and then the lines become pure light. Stainless steel transmits light in a manner unlike anything else.

Light, which has no substance, has both stillness and movement, and so too does balance. Balance can be a still moment in the course of a movement. Balance is subtle, capable of all manners of expression, and it is not tied to any particular form. Stillness, which might just be an absence of movement can, particularly when combined with balance, also be charged with anticipation -of an event about to happen, or with the understanding that over time the waiting will evolve into life. Stillness can also be the Enal moment of movement, the memory of an event that has been completed, a pause for applause. When we see stillness we see much more, for anticipation is inherent in stillness and it has no image itself. It is abstract and, at the same time, as real as any of the images it conjures.

My work is not articulated but there is movement in much of it. Some of my sculptures turn in mid air so that their forms can be seen to evolve, simplicity becoming complexity for brief periods of time- The same movement, and sometimes stillness too, is in the stationary works; for these it is the viewer who must move to explore them and find their mood.

Fortunately my artistic language arrived and developed when I needed it. I did not go out looking for it and when I am working I never give it a conscious thought. I use a high grade stainless steel that should not stain, even outside. Mostly it is welded and usually I finish the joint so that the appearance of the weld does not intrude, the work is not about the techniques of its making. The bronze sheet and the cast bronze allow me to introduce colour, tone and texture to the metal. This is not for decoration, but to transmit light, to accentuate form, and to adjust the weight of the mass. Cor-ten steel, steel enriched with copper, allowed the larger Pasture Piece to be made in a glorious natural colour, that belies its weight and attracts light. Stone I find less difficult to carve than I anticipated, and extremely rewarding. There is no intent to restrict the range of materials I work with; I will add new ones as I find a need for (hem. All are durable materials for I want my work to last beyond my time.

Graham Williams, November 1999


Born in Kent in 1940 and educated at Beckenham Grammar School with day release and evening classes at Beckenham Art School.
Worked in a commercial art studio and advertising agencies in London until 1962. Entered publishing,
at first managing marketing and advertising design, later a director of both The Folio Society and Folio Fine Art.
Commenced own imprint The Florin Press for hand printed work in 1965 and left employment in 1971 to
concentrate on his own work - fine hand printing and wood engravings. Changed medium to sculpture in 1987.

Wood Engravings and Fine Printing Exhibitions

  1. 1982-88
    1. Society of Wood Engravers annual touring exhibitions
  2. 1982
    1. National Exhibition of Wood Engraving, Hereford Museum
  3. 1984
    1. British Fine Printing, St Lawrence Jewry, London
  4. 1984
    1. Hand printed work, Bertram Rota Limited, London
  5. 1985
    1. Wood engravings, The Roundhouse, London
  6. 1985
    1. Royal Academy Summer Show, Royal Academy, London
  7. 1985
    1. The Printmaker and the Book, Bankside Gallery, London
  8. 1985
    1. Hand printed work and original prints, Alex Gerard Fine Art, Battle
  9. 1986
    1. Private Eyes, Camden Art Centre, London
  10. 1987
    1. Fine Books Today, The Portico Library and Gallery, Manchester
  11. 1987
    1. Wood engravings, Adelaide, Australia
  12. 1989
    1. Royal Academy Summer Show, Royal Academy, London
  13. 1994
    1. True to Type, The Crafts Council, London and touring
  14. 1994
    1. Book Design and Production, London and Frankfurt
  15. 1999
    1. Stampatori/Torchi/Libri, 1895-1996, Biblioteca Civica di Verona ,
  16. 1999
    1. Un Tipografo Fra Dua Culture, Biblioteca di via Senato, Milan

Selected Solo Exhibitions

  1. 1991
    1. Galerie Walzinger, Saarlouis
  2. 1992
    1. Sassen Galerie, Berlin
  3. 1995
    1. Annely Juda Fine Art, London
  4. 1998
    1. Konstruktiv Tendens, Stockholm
  5. 2000
    1. Annely Juda Fine Art, London
  6. 2001
    1. Konstruktiv Tendens, Stockholm
  7. 2002
    1. Ralph Lauren, London
  8. 2004
    1. Annely Juda Fine Art, London


Non sculptural work is held in over forty Institutional and national collections throughout the world.
Sculpture is in collections in the UK, Germany, Sweden, Japan, the West Indies and USA.
To date six commissions for sculptures have been completed which include large outdoor works of up to four metres high.