Edna Manley (1900-1987)
Aliases: Edna Swithenbank
Professions: Wood Sculptor; Sculptor; Painter
Edna Manley Biography
(b Bournemouth, 1 March 1900; d Kingston, 10 Feb 1987). Jamaican sculptor of English birth. The daughter of an English cleric and his Jamaican wife, she studied sculpture in London at the Regent Street Polytechnic, the Royal Academy Schools and St Martins School of Art. In 1921 she married her Jamaican cousin Norman Manley, and in 1922 she travelled with him to Jamaica. Her work in Jamaica in the 1920s and early 1930s strongly reflected the current Vorticist and Neo-classical trends in British sculpture. The influence of Frank Dobson and Jacob Epstein is particularly marked. Her subject-matter, however, revealed a strong identification with Jamaica and its people. Throughout this period her work was exhibited in England, where she was associated with the London Group, to which she was admitted in 1930. Her work in the late 1930s became increasingly political, reflecting the social upheavals of the time and her husbands involvement with the establishment of a viable political framework for his country. Indeed, with their powerful, insistent rhythms, and the essential leitmotifs of the head straining upwards towards a vision or downwards in suppressed anger, works such as Negro Aroused (1935; see JAMAICA, fig. 5), The Prophet (1936; Kingston, N.G.), Pocomania (1936; Kingston, priv. col.) and Tomorrow (1939, Wales, priv. col.) have become virtual icons of that period of Jamaican history, a period when black Jamaicans were indeed aroused, demanding a new and just social order.Grove Art excerpts - Electronic ©2003, Oxford Art Online
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