Museum Highlight

Clive Duncan

This Museum Highlight announces a new acquisition by The National Portrait Gallery. [Highlighted: July 2022]

Myfanwy Piper
Clive Duncan

Portrait from life wax original
Date: 1995
RGA President 2016 – 2022
RGA Life member 2022 – present
Reading Museum Accession Number
REDMG : 2005.7.1 (for bronze cast)

The National Portrait Gallery has acquired Clive Duncan’s portrait of the late Myfanwy Piper. It is currently (July 2022) being cast in bronze and when completed it will go into the gallery as part of their permanent collection.

The first bronze, cast in 2004, is part of the Reading Museum art collection and the RGA exhibited the wax original at its Summer Show, Reading University 2016, and also as part of the Online Exhibition “Celebrating our Town – Discover Reading” in 2020-2021. Clive has recently retired as the RGA President (2016 – 2022). Now a life member he is still active with the RGA having been the assessor for the Pauline Mercier Award – a new award for work in 3D.

Clive Duncan was born in 1944, and having studied at Camberwell School of Art, London, and City & Guilds of London Sculpture School, his focus for the past forty-five years has been making, teaching, and discussing sculpture. Clive has been instrumental in bringing lectures and talks back to being a part of the RGA programme for members.

Clive said about this recent acquisition “I am particularly pleased as Myfanwy Piper’s role as writer, librettist, critic and participating partner in John Piper’s pyrotechnics for the Royal events was significant. I made the portrait over eight days in John Piper’s studio a few years after his death. I had met the Pipers when I was a student working in the summer for Patrick Reyntiens who made the huge Piper Baptistry Window for Coventry Cathedral. Unfurling the original cartoon in Piper’s yard with several others, one saw the real size of the window.”

Clive goes on to say: “Myfanwy was a remarkable woman. Conversations on her friendships with Brancusi, Kandinsky, Mondrian, and many more were profoundly interesting. The great Alexander Calder put on his wonderful ‘Circus’ on her kitchen table at Fawley Bottom Farmhouse – its English Premiere.

Myfanwy had great respect for Reading’s architecture and praised the architectural heritage of Reading. On one occasion she spoke about Gun Street and the variety of building styles. I think the uniqueness of a town with two rivers was very special to her. She was active in the Shell Guides as well as editing the AXIS magazine from 1930s Paris.”

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