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Valentine’s special: ‘Love can reduce people to animals’ says Charles Dickens’ great great grandaughter, Sophie Dickens

PUBLISHED: 10:00 14 February 2016

Sophie Dickens' sculpture Large Lovers

Sophie Dickens' sculpture Large Lovers

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Sculptor Sophie Dickens has set out to prove love is no bed of roses with a collection of 18 bronze statues – just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Sophie DickensSophie Dickens

Sophie, a rock star’s wife and the great-great grand daughter of Scrooge author Charles Dickens, wanted to tell the story of a “modern love affair” – complete with passion, quarrels, making up, and a final blissful union – through the Be Mine exhibition.

The idea came during a period of absence from her husband Alex Smith as he resurrected his career in his native Australia with his band Moving Pictures.

“I was working through this distance and body language and what it is to be with somebody else, concentrating on the negative space,” she explained.

A friend who owns an art gallery suggested her sketches of couples would make a good starting point for “the most brilliant” Valentine show, and in her London Fields studio she set about turning them into bright raspberry red bronze sculptures – ranging from 25cm in height to life size.

Sophie Dickens' sculpture The KissSophie Dickens' sculpture The Kiss

The project started out being “pretty much about me and my husband” – but, she told the Gazette, a “really violent one” called Marketing Man was inspired by “a famous celebrity shove”.

“Charles Satchi pushed Nigella Lawson,” she said. “I was struck by how this civilised famous couple could be reduced to almost animal thuggery and bullying. I found it incredibly shocking.

“I thought it was important to have that to offset the image of lovers walking off into the sunset.”

Mother-of-two Sophie and her husband don’t row all the time but they are having “some good rows on Skype at the moment”.

“He’s been away for five months,” she said. “It’s getting to that irritating stage before he comes back.

“Rather than the historical way of showing love as being about kissing and eroticism, I wanted it to be the whole shebang of what it is to be in a relationship. The big schmaltzy kiss is only a small part.”

She tires of being asked about her ancestor, saying the only way the exhibition relates to him is that he was “foul to his wife”.

“He publically denounced her for being mad in the press, while espousing the idea we need to be cosy with our families at Christmas. This man was probably one of the worst husbands you could possibly imagine.”

Be Mine is at the Sladmore Contemporary in Bruton Place, Mayfair, until February 26.


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