Kenneth Armitage

Children Playing (1953)

About this artwork

This is one of a series of works, begun in 1949, in which the artist joined two or more figures together. He described the resulting sculptures as ‘a new organic unit - a simple mass of whatever shape I liked containing only that number of heads, limbs or other detail I felt necessary.’ In this work, the children appear to have linked arms and are running or skipping in unison. Armitage was in charge of a War Office School during the Second World War, using models of aeroplanes and silhouettes to teach aircraft identification. This influenced the flat forms of his later work by making him particularly aware of shape. He has also acknowledged that his sculptures were affected by the shape of screens he had in his studio, which comprised a flat area with protruding feet.

Kenneth Armitage

Kenneth Armitage

Kenneth Armitage was one of a number of leading British sculptors to be born in Yorkshire, like Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth before him. He studied at Leeds College of Art and at the Slade School of Art in London, before serving in the army during the Second World War. After the war, Armitage became head of the sculpture department at Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, Wiltshire. It was during this time that he moved away from carving in stone to modelling with plaster on metal armatures, and casting in bronze. The human figure was Armitage’s main subject. He became well-known for creating small-scale groups of figures with their bodies merged together.