It’s hard to describe how I felt this morning, walking into Dora Gordine’s ‘Plaster Room’. Her extraordinary sculptures surround me. What a privilege to sculpt in Dora Gordine’s studio home, Dorich House. To sculpt in the very same room that she sculpted and worked on her plaster sculptures. The wall of windows look North towards Richmond Park, providing wonderful light. The red-tiled floor is perfect for working in clay. The first time I visited Dorich House Museum, in Kingston-on-Thames, I fell in love with her sculptures, her drawings, her studio and her home.
“Talented, charismatic and dedicated to her art, Dora Gordine was hailed in 1938 as ‘possibly the finest woman sculptor in the world’ and she remained a major presence in European sculpture until the late 1960s” (Dorich House Museum).
I am delighted to be modeling Mercy Kagia again. We are both made so welcome by the curator, Brenda Martin, and the Dorich House team. This first day, I am setting up the room and we are developing together the poses for the life-size portraits. I also start work on a very small portrait to re-familiarise myself with Mercy’s head. I quickly remember those cheek bones, that chin, that neck. The familiar dreads are gone, enabling me to get a better sense of her skull than before. And so lovely to catch up on our lives since we last met.
The House is now a museum, with regular Open Days – www.dorichhousemuseum.org.uk. It is part of Kingston University. Funnily enough, Mercy is a current Kingston University Phd student, and me, an alumnus.
I can’t wait to get stuck into a life-size portrait tomorrow.