“Beauty feeds the spirit and nurtures the soul,” what says this better than the classic work of sculptress ELEANOR CARDOZO? Joanne Pereira finds that this gorgeous artist has the ability to harmoniously connect body, mind and spirit as a seamless extension to her exquisite works. Get captivated with EE’s choice for our anniversary special.
Her work was commissioned for the 2012 olympics and displayed prominently at Heathrow Airport, the haloed precincts of Westminster Abbey, Hampstead Theater and Harrods. Her iconic creations have been lapped up insatiable collectors. Joanne Pereira finds that this gorgeous artist has the ability harmously connect body, mind and spirit as the seamless extension to her works. Get captivated with EE’s choice for our Anniversary issue
The challenge with sculpture is to capture something as intangible as the spirit, through something as solid as bronze.
Q : Tell us about your early formative years. How have they impacted your work?
EC: I was brought up in many different countries (Ghana, Malawi, Malaysia, Cyprus, Gibraltar) where my father worked as Military Attaché for the British Army. This opened my mind,at an early age, to different cultures, peoples and languages. My parents embraced each country with enthusiasm and curiosity and today they have works of art, books and furniture from all around the world. The Christmas crib of wooden figurines depicting Mary and Joseph & Jesus in a manger are all carved Ghanaian figures. I am the second among ten siblings. As the eldest girl I was made responsible for my little sisters and brothers. My parents encouraged artistic and musical creativity, dance and sport. We had no television, so we spent hours playing the piano, violin, drawing or making things. It was a very rich and happy childhood.
Q : How did your classic style of the golden Renaissance evolve
EC: My earliest heroes in the art world were Leonardo Da Vinci, Donatello, Michelangelo and later Rodin and Camille Claudel, all of whom celebrated the beauty of the human form. Figurative art and the magnificence of the human body has always been my inspiration and my sculptures are a tribute to that beauty. The Renaissance artists also used the ‘Golden Mean’ the ideal proportion (1 to 1.6) used by the ancient Greeks and said to be ‘God’s favourite number’ as it is found throughout nature. My eye is so trained to this secret of what we find beautiful in the human face and body. I am subconsciously drawn to sculpt everything to it.
Q: Tell us about the philosophy that inspires your work.
EC: ‘To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts, such is the duty of the artist,’ this is my philosophy. I am drawn to show how beauty, passion and strength can sweep away the everyday and reveal something extraordinary. It propels me to lift the spirit, to inspire, to speak to the heart’s capacity for delight and wonder and to stir the soul. I use the nude form as an expression of inner human spirit. The challenge with sculpture is to capture something as intangible as the spirit, through something as solid as bronze.
Q: Your straight clean lines are influenced by sports at their zenith. Tell us more
EC: The anatomy of a professional dancer or gymnast is a challenge and inspiration for any artist. When body, mind and spirit are connected and in harmony, as with athletes and dancers, we see the perfection of our own creation and marvel at its splendour. My figurative sculptures and drawings are about the glorification of humankind. My lines are also strongly based in the Art Deco tradition of symmetry and perfect proportion
EC: In many ways! Anyone who has pursued a pastime vigorously will know that it takes years of hard work to make something difficult look effortless. This is one of the reasons why ballet dancers make such enduringly fascinating subjects for artists:- all that grace, beauty and poise in the performance – all that grit, perspiration and effort in the preparation. The contrast is compelling and not dissimilar to the stages of creating a perfect sculpture. My years of being a gymnast also give me first hand knowledge of the discipline and skill required, the poses held, and the muscles used.
Q: Elaborate on your journey, behind the proverbial scenes
EC: Of all the arts, sculpture is the most demanding and figurative sculpture the most challenging. I can remember as a young child, at every gallery visit, being more fascinated by sculpture than by paintings and particularly figurative sculpture. My choice was the most difficult of all, but it has been the most rewarding. I have been able to create a successful career from it and it never ceases to intrigue me. As a student, I studied sculpture at the City and Guilds School of Art in London and portraiture in Florence. Today 50% of my work is private commissions of portraits and personal sculptures.
Q: How long does it take to finish a piece you are working on
EC: I can usually finish a life size full body sculpture in two to three weeks if I work consistently and exclusively on it. However, the foundry take six to eight weeks to cast my original into bronze, so the whole process takes about three months.
EC: I used to model in clay but with very large pieces, like the 3 metre Olympic gymnast, clay gets too heavy and impossible to transport, so for large works I carve out of modern materials such as polyurethane which is incredibly light and easy to manipulate. This was not even an option when I was a student; but I embrace any modern material and process if it makes the work quicker and easier! The finished pieces are almost always cast in bronze or carved out of marble.
Q: What is Eleanor the person like?
EC: You would have to ask my family! I am a perfectionist which isn’t always the easiest to live with
Q: You seem to live out of your studio or jet set to your various exhibitions. How do you unwind?
EC: I take many holidays with my husband and children. I love to visit new cities and explore different countries, to hike mountains and ski and swim and relax by the sea. I probably play as much as I work!
Q: Tell us about your association with Bedat & Co and the title of “Woman of Calibre”.
EC: This was a very great honour for me and a role I embrace with enthusiasm because it came about in such a beautiful way. There are many similarities between the founder of Bedat & Co, Simone Bedat, and myself. Both of us based in Geneva, women working in a man’s world, using Swiss craftsmanship to realise our designs which are based on the principles of Art Deco and perfect proportion. During the London Olympics 2012 when my bronze gymnasts were showcased at Heathrow, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace Gardens, Bedat & Co saw the similarities and asked me to be their ambassador. A different kind of ambassador who understood all about creativity and artistic precision. The ‘Woman of Calibre’ title embraced all that Simone Bedat and I worked towards. I think that her luxury timepieces are the most feminine, elegant and graceful watches on the market today and I never cease to get compliments for the ones I wear.
Q: Which for you is your most memorable creation? One close to your heart……
EC: This has to be ‘POISE’ which was made famous during the 2012 Olympics. My model, an Olympic rhythmic gymnast was so beautiful, with perfect proportions and such elegance that I couldn’t fail to be inspired. Poised on top of the world on one toe, arched backwards with a flying ribbon in her hand, she was captured by Swiss photographer Cyril Torrent and became the iconic image for which I am known today.
Q: During the creative process,do you get attached to any sculpture making it difficult to part with?
EC: It’s very difficult for me to finish a piece because I am such a perfectionist and always want to correct and improve details, but when I feel I have done my absolute best, and I am happy with the result, I am very attached to it, because so much of myself has gone into the creation. Luckily my sculptures are usually editions so I can keep one myself!
Q: Please share your dream project with us.
EC: The collection of bronze gymnasts for the 2012 Olympics was definitely a dream project for me because the subject matter was so perfect and my models were so beautiful. I spent hours with the rhythmic gymnasts in California, watching them train, sketching, filming, measuring, drawing their fluid lines and witnessing the magnificence of the human form. I was inspired for months, while I created the sculptures, in my studio back in Switzerland. I also got to know our British Olympic gymnast Frankie Jones, to whom I dedicated my ‘POISE’ sculpture. The BBC came to Heathrow to film Frankie performing in front of it. It was a very special moment.
Q: Tell us about your family.
EC: I married an only child, which was the perfect compliment to my being one of ten! We had a daughter and two sons in the first three years of our marriage when we moved to Switzerland, so they are very close. They are also all following their dreams in the creative arts. One is an actress in Hollywood, one is a music producer in London and the other is pursuing the film production and modelling world in Los Angeles.
EC: I have no idea how to answer that question! But thank you for the compliment! All I do know is that artists put a lot of themselves into their work. For example, when I drew my father, my resemblance to his portrait was even stronger than in reality. I love beauty, all kinds of beauty and find it in everything. I think we are hard wired to respond to it because beauty feeds the spirit and nurtures the soul.