Keeping it in the family: Renowned sculptor Richard Hudson talks about his first exhibition with his artist sons

Sculptor Richard Hudson, whose family hail from Yorkshire, and his two sons are holding a joint exhibition of their work for the first time, Catherine Scott meets him.

For sculptor Richard Hudson and his two artist sons, their Yorkshire heritage and their relationship with nature has been an inspiration in their work. Now, for the first time, the Hudsons have a joint exhibition of their work.

The Hudsons, Family Ties, is a multidisciplinary, intergenerational exhibition of work by Richard, Richard WM and Henry Hudson on display at Claridge’s ArtSpace in London, although Richard Hudson’s work can be seen a lot closer to home – a Thirsk Sculpture Park.

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Curated by Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, the exhibition brings together these three British artists – father and sons – to be shown together for the very first time.

Richard Hudson's sculpture at  Thirsk Hall Sculpture ParkPicture: Thirsk HallRichard Hudson's sculpture at  Thirsk Hall Sculpture ParkPicture: Thirsk Hall
Richard Hudson's sculpture at Thirsk Hall Sculpture ParkPicture: Thirsk Hall

“The unusual thing is the fact it's a father and two sons - the three of us that have got together using different mediums rather than working on one piece. We’ve talked about doing a show together many times,” says Richard Hudson snr.

“We are all from a farming background and you can see an earthiness in all the things we do and it sort of grew together. We only had two months to put it together but it does work and I have been pleasantly surprised by the response from the public, but also from the art world.

“My family is originally from Yorkshire, we were farmers although we moved down to Worcestershire. Both my boys spent a lot of time in Settle and went to school in Yorkshire, after their mother remarried.”

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Richard WM returned to Yorkshire after studying at Central Saint Martins and remained in Yorkshire until two years ago.

One of Richard Hudson's Heart sculptures at ChatsworthOne of Richard Hudson's Heart sculptures at Chatsworth
One of Richard Hudson's Heart sculptures at Chatsworth

"He (Richard) spent a great deal of time on the moors, finding inspiration and also materials. He would father rather be outside on the moors than inside,” says his father.

Strongly influenced by the decade he spent living in a remote part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Richard WM sources natural foraged materials to create works with a dark, earthy tonality that are also homages to the materials’ original origin. Richard’s woodworks are often carved, scorched, and polished to create pieces with strong prehistoric fossil references. Others are wielded into requiems, statuesque monuments to the glories of death. His ceramics are crafted from natural- coloured raw clays and regularly paired with carefully chosen foraged artefacts. Richard’s sculptures have been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the UK,

They may work in very different medium but there is a similarity in their work; they are united in their deep understanding and fascination of nature and natural forms.

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From father Richard’s large-scale stainless-steel sculptures to Henry’s tactile mixed media works, and Richard WM’s distinctive pieces made from natural foraged materials, the works are studied, thoughtful reflections borne fundamentally from the artists’ formative time living on a farm.

Installation view, Richard Hudson, Tear, Held and Twice in Claridge’s lobby. Photo credit Robert GlowackiInstallation view, Richard Hudson, Tear, Held and Twice in Claridge’s lobby. Photo credit Robert Glowacki
Installation view, Richard Hudson, Tear, Held and Twice in Claridge’s lobby. Photo credit Robert Glowacki

Their artistic practices all began to evolve at a similar time, though in remarkably different directions, incorporating a variety of mediums and processes. Yet, crucially, all connect strongly with the intricate and complex materiality of their mediums, involving physical processes that work earthen materials with clay, plasticine, scagliola and wood.

Hudson snr took to art late in life after first following in the family farming business. After a stint in property development and five years travelling the world following his wanderlust, he ended up at the age of 35 in Mallorca and so his journey as one of the country’s most successful sculptors began.

His large-scale stainless steel and bronze sculptures are reminiscent of one of his key inspirations, Henry Moore, although he says his biggest influence was his mother who was herself an artist who had studied architecture. She had been chosen by Alan Turing to work at Bletchley Park during the war.

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“Even on her deathbed she wouldn't say what she’d worked on; she'd been sworn to secrecy but her artistic talent was extreme," says Hudson. She had five sons and ended up returning to her architectural roots making dolls houses, including High Grove the former house of His Majesty King Charles. “She was extremely talented and she always encouraged us to do what we wanted to do.

Installation view, THE HUDSONS, Family Ties, Claridge's ArtSpace 2024. Photo credit Robert GlowackiInstallation view, THE HUDSONS, Family Ties, Claridge's ArtSpace 2024. Photo credit Robert Glowacki
Installation view, THE HUDSONS, Family Ties, Claridge's ArtSpace 2024. Photo credit Robert Glowacki

“I feel very lucky growing up on a farm. We would go for long walks with my mother and she’d teach us to really look at things - even inside a hedge, to see the beauty within and how continuous everything is and to realise the magnitude of what we have on this earth.”And this continuum is clear from Hudson's work which is all soft lines and reflective surfaces.

Hudson realised later in life he was extremely dyslexic. “The only lesson I liked at school was art, but the idea of being an artist never entered my head; it just wasn't something that you could make a living out of. But I loved the practicality of farming and working with my hands.” But when he was 35 he met an artist in Mallorca and he became her muse.

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“I did some drawing and she asked why wasn’t I working as an artist ? - it hadn't even dawned on me and that’s how it started.” After travelling for five years he ended up back in Mallorca

“I meant to go away for one year but it lasted five. I was waiting for something to happen. I believe in fate and I believe opportunity presents itself and you should grab it with both hands. Suddenly my gut told me I should try to be an artist even before I’d even made my first piece, I decided I was going to be a sculptor.

"I started finding things and putting them together, making sculptures out of old knives and spoon as I was working in a old cutlery factory. Then I started feeling I really wanted to create shapes with my hands in clay. I made three works in clay in the studio and this very nice gallerist had come to see the girls whose muse I was for and he asked to see my studio. He said stop doing all of this, this is what you should be doing, I really like these three pieces but I’d like them in bronze, but I was running out of money. He wanted me to go to Madrid with him to the foundry which I did. We go into the owners office and I heard them say they wanted seven of this and seven of that - and all I could think was who was going to pay for them. They said they’d pay for them, put them in the show and then I could pay them back when they sold.” Which of course they did.

Hudson admits that he has taken risks over the years. He was returning to Spain from Italy where he had been delivering a sculpture and stopped off at a friends in the South of France. The managing director of Sotheby's was there.

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“I showed him my portfolio and he said they were doing an exhibition at Chatsworth called Beyond Limits, a collection of sculptors from around the globe and placed around the grounds and it will be a private sale.”

After seeing his work Sotheby’s wanted a heart he had been working on but rather than 75cms they wanted it two metres high

“He said he was convinced he could sell it but I would have to pay to have it made and pay to ship it over to Chatsworth. I had to borrow money off my brother and other people, and on credit cards. I got the piece made, got it delivered and it sold on the first day so the risk paid off. I did Chatsworth five times and it went very well.” Initially Hudson’s work was bought mainly by private buyers, but he also creates massive public works which can be seen in cities across the globe. “I’ve just completed a five metre piece which is being installed in San Diego.”

Hudson’s Unwind can be seen at Thirsk Hall Sculpture Park until May and some of his smaller works are also on display there. There is also an Unwind piece in the financial district in Dubai and other in the City of London, Madison Square Gardens in New York and Taipai.

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THE HUDSONS, Family Ties, an exhibition at Claridge's ArtSpace, running until April 14.

Claridge’s ArtSpace is an art gallery which was unveiled at the legendary Claridge’s Hotel in 2021 with an exhibition of work by Damien Hirst. This space, designed by John Pawson, is accessed by the Claridge’s ArtSpace Café.