On Family : a Modern Laocoön - Patsy Hickman

©Victoria and Albert Museum, London View Inspiration Details

Artist Statement

Patsy Hickman

had been exploring and contemplating how to show a sculptural representation of the Family and the modern struggles of the family in our post-feminist, post-Freudian culture.

When on a routine visit to the V & A sculpture rooms, I happened upon the representation of the iconic Laocoön displayed in sculpture room 22, a Victorian interpretation of the original Greek statue. This led me to the prints and drawing room version noted below. Here, struggle is external to the family and embedded in survival, in the classics and in Trojan war heroïcs. However, as a visual triangular structure, the Laocoön gave me both a cultural and physical design template for the expression of the modern family, where the child sits centre stage and is seen, not as part of a family entangled with snakes, but instead, striving to keep his parents (and their partnership) together. The parents sit side by side merging into one another - They endure the loss of their separate selves, in their struggle to parent well.

I decided to create the sculpture in terracotta clay because this clay fires to a beautiful colour whilst it is elastic to work with and this allows for detail and smooth, light-reflecting surfaces. I enjoy the burnishing process before firing, and after firing I polished it solely with my hands over several weeks to achieve a soft lustre. The challenge was to hollow the spaces between the three figures without breaking the fragile limbs, particularly of the boy. I later translated this maquette into bronze.

On Family : a Modern Laocoön - Patsy Hickman

©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Inspiration details:

Study of the Laocoon



ca. 1800-1857

Filippo Agricola

V&A collection reference number(s):

Exhibition Guide

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