Eve (Ceremonial Dance)
Edna Manley (1900 – 1987) studied art at Central St. Martins School of Art in London alongside fellow sculptors Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Her artistic career began by sculpting clay models of animals but she made her reputation as a wood carver. During her life she became known as the Mother of Jamaican Art, and claimed that it was in Jamaica where she found both her subjects and materials.
The sculpture 'Eve' (1929) was presented to the Graves Art Gallery in Sheffield by the artist herself in 1937. It is carved from the Jamaican hardwood, mahogany. This was the sculpture that first brought the artist recognition in London where it was exhibited at the Goupil Gallery in 1930.
Eve was the first piece of serious sculpture to be acquired by the city of Sheffield and was viewed with great reserve when it arrived. During a correspondence with the Graves Art Gallery, Manley expressed her concern that the work's unconventional representation of the nude made it a tempting target for criticism.
Of her career she said; ‘I know I am a minor artist but no one is a better wood carver. No one can bully, cajole, coax, batter or trick wood like I can’.
Edna Manley was born in England to a Jamaican mother and English father. She married her cousin Norman Manley and returned to Jamaica in 1922. Norman Manley became leader of the People's National Party and in 1955 was elected Chief Minister of Jamaica. She was an important figure in the development of Jamaican Arts and encouraged the mentoring of young artists. She established the National Gallery of Jamaica and the Jamaica School of Art which is now named in her honour.
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