David Cregeen is a contemporary British sculptor of English, Manx and Scottish descent. He comes from an artistic family: his paternal uncle the Oral Historian Eric R. Cregeen, his aunt the playwright and archeologist Sheila Cregeen, and his maternal grandmother, a painter, first cousin to the 20th century English composer of sacred music Dr. Herbert Howells.
Early in his career the great American art collector Dr. Arthur M. Sackler commissioned him to undertake the sculptural project ‘Faces in History’.
His work, expressionism, ‘evolves from the European classical tradition -----and there is clearly an intellectual bias which emerges in his subject matter through the course of his development.
[His] intellectual grasp of psychology and his deep sense of humanity come together in his figural sculptures and in his portrait heads. […] They manifest what the Chinese call ‘chi’ or life’s breath in a work of art and what Indians refer to as ‘prana’or ‘inner breath’.
Lois Katz, Curator of the Arthur M Sackler Collections New York.
‘DAVID CREGEEN SCULPTURE’ Retrospective Exhibition 1981-1988’
After Graduating from Edinburgh University in 1976 with a master’s degree in Philosophy and experience in a special course in sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art, he moved to Florence where he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arte and the Scoula Libera del Nuodo.
On returning to the United Kingdom he collaborated with London’s leading contemporary dance company, Ballet Rambert. In 1980 he was commissioned by the former Dutch Resistance to sculpt a posthumous portrait of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, leader of ‘the Dam Busters Squadron’.
Cregeen’s first major solo exhibition, based on his time with Ballet Rambert, was at ‘The Mannanan Festival of The Arts’ in 1981, followed by Edinburgh International Festival. In 1982 Cregeen won the ‘Grolla d’Oro’ in Treviso, Venice, for a sculpture inspired by Ballet Rambert’s revival of the Stravinski’s ‘The Rite of Spring’. This sculpture is conceptually central to his work, which has evolved over the years to increasingly abstract and elemental forms.
In I983, the late Dr Arthur M Sackler commissioned Cregeen to sculpt portraits of himself and his wife Jillian Sackler. His first solo exhibition in the US was at the Addison Ripley Gallery, Washington DC which featured the portrait head of Dr Sackler, now at the National Portrait Gallery, Washinton DC. In 1986, along with 5 other British sculptors, he took part in the exhibition Humanism in Contemporary British Sculpture.
During this decade he spent much time in New York. His connection with the Sackler Foundation was consolidated with Dr Sackler inviting him to undertake the project Faces in History: a series of 20 portrait heads of leading personalities of our time. Cregeen’s subjects for this project include Queen Elizabeth II as Head of The Commonwealth; President Nelson Mandela; Pope John Paul II; President Gorbachev, British Prime Minister Lady Thatcher, Professor Stephen Hawking and leading Turkish businessman, philanthropist and art collector, Sakip Sabanci. The collection, Faces in History, is now being catalogued and curated by the late Dr Sackler’s former curator Lois Katz, for its opening in the US and subsequent international touring exhibition.
In 1990, he was commissioned by ‘The Honorary Society of The Middle Temple’ to sculpt a bust of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Several years later he sculpted The Prince of Wales for The Queen Mother. Other notable sitters include: King Michael and Queen Anne of Romania, The Duchess of Cornwall, Sir Crispin Tickell, Sherban Cantacuzino, Sir John Gielgud, the great British contralto Norma Procter, actress Lindsay Duncan, Greek Tenor Mario Frangoulis and film director John Schlesinger.
While working internationally since 1990, Cregeen has made his principle home and studio in Southern Turkey where he has also sculpted some of Turkey’s leading personalities, including the late President Turhut Ozal, Omer Koc, Ayhan Sahenk, Emir Suren, Duriye Pekin and Fatma Sen. In 1997 he was commissioned to undertake a portrait in bronze of the leading Turkish businessman, philanthropist and art collector Sakip Sabanci. The finished bust was for The Sakip Sabanci Museum. Some years later he sculpted his brother Erol Sabanci for the Sabanci Holding company’s headquarters in Istanbull, and in 2007 he completed a memorial to the Sabanci family which is now placed in the museum gardens overlooking the Bosphorus in Istanbul.
In 2006 his solo exhibition at ‘The Royal Commonwealth Society’, London, to commemorate The Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, was viewed by the Queen. Later the same year he travelled to Nigeria to sculpt President Olusegun Obasanju and in 2010 he took part in ‘Istanbul European City of Culture’, creating a sculpture to commemorate the city.
David Cregeen is currently finalizing work for both ‘Faces in History’ and the forthcoming internationally touring exhibition ‘Eternal Image A Journey: in Anatolia with work inspired by and based on his time in this region.
“Firing the imagination for many of his works and reflective of the inalienable human spirit coming through the ages this environment is a key to the ethos of Cregeen’s work with such earlier pieces as ‘Rockman’, ‘The Chosen Maiden’ and ‘After Newton Don’ anticipating his later Anatolian sculptures. At the heart of Cregeen’s sculpture is a sense of movement and their being integral with Nature”.
‘David Cregeen His Work’, McQueen 2013
Cregeen has had over 30 solo exhibitions world-wide. His work is found in many public and private collections including:
The Royal Collection, London; The National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC; The Arthur M Sackler Collections New York; The British Commonwealth, Secretariat, London; Middle Temple, London; The Sakip Sabanci Museum Istanbul; Haci Omer Sabanci Holdings, Istanbul; The collections of: Barclays Bank PLC; Banque PNB Paribas; Garanti Bankasi; The Ziraat Bankasi, The Universities of Edinburgh, Harvard and Bucharest;
As well as the private collections of The Prince of Wales, King Michael of Romania, Prince Al-Waleed of Saudi Arabia, The Rt Hon and Mrs Tony Blair, The Rt Hon John Whitehead, Mukesh Ambani, John J. Studzinski, Cigdem Simavi, Ahmet and Duriye Pekin, Mehmet Sen, Dr Moira Simmons and Faruk and Hatice Suren.