“CUBE” 1971


ARTIST'S NOTES When I arrived in Paris on a one year scholarship I was refused the allocated studio and accommodation at the Cite des Arts because my husband, artist Kerry Trengove was to live with me. At first we had to stay in a very cheap hotel and as our money ran out we would walk round and round the outside of the Grand Magazins at closing time, picking up centimes dropped in the rubbish from the street stalls. This was usually enough to buy bread, cheese, a tomato and bottle of wine, which was our diet until my grant arrived six weeks later.

I asked some French friends if I could work in their garage space as I had no studio, so they kindly parked their car in the street for the rest of the year. At first I made a number of drawings, collages, and temporary street figures in plaster, but discovered that I couldn't be reimbursed for these as the scholarship fund only covered 'special' materials. In this piece, 'Cube', I wanted to change the gender of the central subject being watched to male, and to contain the figure in a defined volume to suggest territory he occupied yet was confined to. As I began planning this work I realised I couldn't afford to make it unless, ironically, I used more expensive materials to ensure that I would be reimbursed.

I'd already become very interested in waxworks, a popular sculptural tradition in Paris, and persuaded the sculptor at the Musee Grevin to tell me some trade secrets, including the name of their wax supplier. They then told me the proportions necessary to make a portrait head and as I had so little money the model this time had to be my husband Kerry. The fund would pay for the wax and the dexion cube, and the three standing sentinels were made from the remaining plaster. These surrounded the seated wax figure, and on the fourth side, outlines of feet indicated the ideal viewing position for a participating spectator. I arrived late for the exhibition opening to find a drunken man inside the cube trying to prize open the figure's fragile wax hands and insert a wine glass. Using my worst street French I asked him to stop, but as he emerged he told me he was a Judge for the Prix D'Honneur de Paris and had been waiting for me as I had won the Gold Medal for sculpture. Though I was given the certificate I never actually received the medal and left for England soon after this. I was however offered studios, grants and exhibitions by the same bureaucrats whose earlier decisions had reduced us to hunger and poverty, but by now I'd had enough of such double standards and couldn't wait to be back in London.
Rose Garrard 1994

'International Exhibition of Artistes Etrangers' ORTF Centre Paris

One wax and three plaster figures, dexion cube. Made during French Government Scholarship through the British Council, to study sculpture as an elêve libre at the Ecole des Beaux Arts Paris

Prix D'Honneur de Paris Gold Medal for Sculpture.