A first for the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden

PUBLISHED: 14:00 09 July 2010

Sun Maze, a bronze by artist Michael Ayrton, will be displayed at the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden

Sun Maze, a bronze by artist Michael Ayrton, will be displayed at the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden

Archant

THE only piece of sculpture displayed at the Fry Art Gallery in Castle Street, Saffron Walden, will also be the first item from the collection to be lent to an international exhibition.

Although loans have been made in the past to museums and galleries in Britain, the Sun Maze - by the artist Michael Ayrton, who worked at Toppesfield in the later years in his life - will be included in an exhibition entitled ‘Through Labyrinths’ opening in late July in the Centre Cultura Contemporania in Barcelona.

Later the bronze will be displayed in Valencia at a second showing of this exhibition, which is described as reviewing ‘the concept and representation of the maze through history’.

Ayrton’s Sun Maze will return to Saffron Walden in time to feature in the town’s first Maze Festival, taking place between August 20-28, 2011.

Completed in 1970, the 46cm high sculpture was bought by the Fry Gallery in 1992 with the help of a grant from the Henry Moore Foundation.

One side of the bronze displays the sun, bearing a tiny stylised figure of Icarus, the lengendary boy whose wings, attached with wax, failed him when he flew too close to its heat. In the centre of the other side is a maze, typical of the mazes and labyrinths which preoccupied Ayrton following his visit to Greece in 1958 and were represented frequently in his work.

Ayrton (1921-1975) was a painter and sculptor who was also well known as a theatre designer, writer, art critic and broadcaster, though he was never part of the group of north-west Essex artists.

He is buried at Hadstock, near Saffron Walden, and there is a representation of a maze on the reverse side of his gravestone.

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