Maquette for Large Crab Relief polished bronze on painted panel 8.3 x 16.5 cm. (3 1/4 x 6 1/2 in.) (BM 124)
PROVENANCE: Private Collection, U.K.
The present work relates to Large Crab Relief, which was completed in 1978. In 1936, the young Bernard Meadows was fortunate enough to work for Henry Moore who inevitably became one of the major influences on his artistic career. Rarely can one draw positive inspiration from adverse conditions but the outbreak of war and the artist's posting to the exotic Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean was one such example. It was here that Meadows and his RAF comrades were introduced to and forced to live with the scores of crabs that inhabit the island. As Penelope Curtis has discussed, 'Living among the crabs was rather an experience of constant interest, amazed observation, and occasional irritation. The crabs were absolutely unmissable; extraordinarily strong, massed like an army marching across the sands, or climbing up the trees. The Forces had to learn how to deal with these constant companions, who even invaded their beds. Meadows observed ponderous tree-crabs, fast mosquito crabs, slow tank-like crabs living out their cycle beside him; attacking, escaping, hiding and disappearing.' (Alan Bowness, Bernard Meadows: Sculpture and Drawings, Lund Humphries, London, 1995, p.19) The experience of these unusual animals led to one of Meadows' most forceful motifs of which the present lot is an excellent example.