Peter Eugene Ball (b.1943- )
Christus Rex, 2000
Carved wood with copper and gold leaf
115cm x 70cm
Loaned by Derby Cathedral
When researching for works of art for this exhibition, Peter Eugene Ball’s figures were a natural choice to borrow. He has created several Black Madonna and Child but sadly these are all in private collections abroad. Derby Cathedral’s Christus Rex can be seen as a wonderful depiction of a Black representation of Jesus. On enquiring about whether it could be loaned, the reply was that it had been knocked over and its left arm has been broken. How often have people of ethnic minorities been pushed aside to the ground. I’m pleased to say that Peter Eugene Ball has kindly come in to restore Christus and here he is resurrected for us to see. I hope this exhibition will help restore confidence in finding their rightful worth in discovering their image reflecting that of Christ.
(Revd Canon Jeremy Dussek – Chester Cathedral)
Peter Eugene Ball was born in Coventry in 1943. He attended Coventry College of Art and in 1961 joined the Marjorie Parr Gallery on the King’s Road in London where he had his first one-man show. His sculpture at that time was diverse and eclectic with no religious connotation. He worked with driftwood and other found objects such as railway sleepers, bells and ropes to create figures which often had an historical, mythical or literary origin. Thus began a succession of one-man shows and joint exhibitions over the next few years alongside such artists as John Piper, Winifred Nicholson and John Hitchens. During this period Peter also had a number of different jobs to maintain an income but in 1968 he decided to make sculpture his full-time occupation.
His first religious piece, a simple crucifix, was bought in 1974 by a priest at Westminster Cathedral and four years later he obtained his very first church commission: a memorial crucifix at Preston-on-Stour in Warwickshire. However, it wasn’t until 1986, when Birmingham Cathedral commissioned a crucifix and altar pieces, that regular church work became an integral part of his life and over the next few years he began to place major pieces in some of the country’s great cathedrals as well as smaller figures in various parish churches. During this time he continued to exhibit and sell his sculpture, both religious and secular, in galleries and at exhibitions across the UK, Europe and America.
To date Peter’s sculpture has appeared in over 40 exhibitions and he now produces a major one-man show once every two years, which usually takes place in a cathedral setting and brings together some of his transcendent religious figures along with quirky, often witty secular pieces, both of which define his work.
His career now spans more than 50 years and Peter currently has more than 90 works of art in churches and cathedrals throughout the UK – almost certainly more than any other living artist. He lives in Newark in Nottinghamshire with his wife, Jane, where he works from his garden studio and continues to undertake regular commissions, both religious and secular.