Peter Blake’s sculptures spark joy at Waddington Custot in London

‘Peter Blake: Sculpture and Other Matters’, at London's Waddington Custot, spans six decades of the artist's career

Peter Blake sculptures: head on plinth, and artwork of finger pressing coloured button
Left, Peter Blake Found Sculpture II, 2012. Found object on marble base and oak plinth. Right, Peter Blake Big Little Books. ‘A Hand Presses a Red Button’, 2023, collage
(Image credit: Courtesy the artist and Waddington Custot)

For the first time in 20 years, Peter Blake has turned his eclectic gaze to sculpture, presenting new work alongside pieces from his six-decade career in a new exhibition at Waddington Custot, ‘Peter Blake: Sculpture and Other Matters.’ 

‘I think it will be interesting to see everything all together over the long span of my career, and see how things juxtapose,’ Blake tells us. ‘It doesn't necessarily go from the beginning to the end and get better, [but it does] change direction, and become something similar, with some kind of development. And what was interesting is that Jacob [Twyford, senior director at Waddington Custot] picked up on the conceptual art elements of it, which I've never really talked about or pointed out.’

‘I’m not really a sculptor in the sense that I could sit down with a bunch of clay and make a head’

Peter Blake

Peter Blake locker sculpture covered in pin-ups

Peter Blake, Locker, 1959. Paper collage on painted locker

(Image credit: Courtesy the artist and Waddington Custot)

Early works, such as Locker (1959), a sculpture of an old RAF locker adorned with pin-up images, join pieces that demonstrate Blake’s early adoption of storybook characters, such as Tarzan Box – ‘Big Iron Bird, She Come’ (c.1965). In the 2012 series Found Sculpture, found objects including pebbles and rocks are imbued with the status of fine art, coming to rest on their oak and marble plinths. 

Peter Blake artwork on gallery wall

Peter Blake, A Parade for Saul Steinberg, 2007–2012. Found object assemblage

(Image credit: Courtesy the artist and Waddington Custot)

Throughout it all runs Blake’s distinctive playfulness (also evident in his 2021 artist’s recipe for Wallpaper* – beans on toast) and a clear love of materials, teased into sculptural shapes or celebrated in their raw forms. For Blake, classic motifs and everyday objects are treated with the same respect.  ‘I try and match the found materials up to what the object is,’ he says. ‘So for instance, in the piece called Family, which is quite big – almost life size – the child is made, as I recall, of childlike things. So it's a box of biscuits, and a ball and things like that. In another piece, the man is made from very masculine things, and the mother is made from very feminine things. The child is made from toys. That's how I do it sometimes.’

Sculptures made with found objects in form of people

Peter Blake, Family, c.2003. Found object assemblage

(Image credit: Courtesy the artist and Waddington Custot)

A spirit of collaboration unites works from the Still Life series, created as an homage to Claude Monet, with Then & Now, For Damien (2003), referencing Damien Hirst, and later tributes to artist and cartoonist Saul Steinberg

Ultimately, the retrospective is a celebration of Blake’s juxtaposition of cultural references and materials, for the creation of pieces sparking joy, above all else. ‘They're all pretty much collage sculptures,’ Blake adds. ‘Though I might be able to, I’m not really a sculptor in the sense that I could sit down with a bunch of clay and make a head.’

Peter Blake’s 'Sculpture and Other Matters' is on at Waddington Custot from 20 February – 13 April 2024

low bench, tiger on rocker and other found wooden object comprising Peter Blake sculpture

Peter Blake, Man Meeting a Tiger on a Bridge, 1960. Found wood construction with paint

(Image credit: Courtesy the artist and Waddington Custot)

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.