June 23, 1943 |
Aged eleven Kenworthy attended the Royal College of Art in London under the tutelage of Professor John Skeaping, who later said of him keeping to his own ideas he is to my mind the best sculptor of animals to make an appearance this century. (Les sources de l'art - Les Animaux 1968) Kenworthy also went to Kingston Grammar School, dividing his time between school and the sculpture schools of the Royal College. He then spent two years at Wimbledon College of Art before entering the Royal Academy Schools, in 1961 for four years in the School of Sculpture. While at the Academy Schools he was awarded the Landseer Travelling Scholarship prize (twice), the President's Prize for Craftsmanship, Four silver medals for sculpture and the Gold Medal and Travelling Scholarship for Sculpture in 1965, he remains the youngest ever winner of the prestigious Gold Medal.
In 1965 Kenworthy had his first exhibition with the Tryon Gallery, Mayfair, London. His life-size carving in black Kellymount limestone of a Stalking Leopard was bought by Mr.& Mrs Russell Byers and presented to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. He exhibited in South Africa with Everard Read at the Pieter Wenning Gallery in Johannesburg in 1966 and at the Incurable Collector in New York where his carving of a Roaring Lion in Blu Turqu Marble was sold to a private collector.
In 1969, following annual study tours to East Africa, Kenworthy won the Greenshield Foundation award and had his first solo exhibition in London Jonathan Kenworthy Bronzes and Drawings: Movement and Wildlife in Africa at the Tryon Gallery followed by Impressions of Africa in 1971, and Kenworthy '75 – Cheetah Hunting Series, Baboons and Nomads. The cheetah hunting was an innovative idea to make five bronzes to depict first a cheetah in a tree, then the cheetah starting to stalk its prey, a young wildebeest, followed by the chase and finally the kill. In 1976, Kenworthy's Kenya, a one-hour television programme for World About Us was aired for the first time on the BBC. The programme was produced by George Inger.
Kenworthy's first one-man show in New York was held at the Coe Kerr Gallery in Manhattan's Upper East Side, following his trip to Afghanistan in 1977. This exhibition, Horsemen of the Hindu Kush, contained a collection of bronzes, studies and drawings of the Afghan horsemen playing the ancient game of buzkashi. The ensuing exhibitions were People of the Desert: Nomads of East Africa in 1985 and Survival in the Serengeti, 1991, Coe Kerr Gallery, New York.
During the 1990s, Kenworthy worked on a thirty foot sculpture of the Lioness and a Lesser Kudu a commission for the Duke of Westminster. Kenworthy carved the sculptures out of blocks of polystyrene, the models were cast by the Meridan Bronze Foundry in London in 1998. One casting sits on a hundred foot long oval pond at Eaton Hall, Cheshire, the second is in Upper Grosvenor Gardens in London.
Apart from an early commission for writer Ernest Hemingway's widow, Mary Hemingway, for her husband's grave in Ketchum, Idaho and later The Leopard, for Paul Wates, Kenworthy does not normally work to commission, preferring instead to develop a theme and a body of work for exhibition. His early success has enabled him to maintain his own pace and artistic integrity. He sketches while on safari and uses drawing to develop his ideas in the studio, his exhibitions always include some drawings to accompany the sculptures.
In 2002 he exhibited with the Gerald Peters Gallery in New York, Rhythms of Life, a collection of bronzes and drawings covering a wide range of subjects: Afghan Women out walking in Kabul, African tribesmen: a Dinka with a pipe, a Turkana with his sons, a Stretching Tiger from Nepal, a Kuchi couple on horseback on the road to Jalalabad, and a sculpture of Horus at the Temple of Edfu, entitled Yesterday's Gods. A catalogue raisonne of his work, Jonathan Kenworthy Sculpture and Works on Paper, was published by LionTree Publications in 2007, with a foreword by Dr. Catherine Wills and an introduction by American writer and director, John Heminway.
He continues to travel extensively and work at his studio in Surrey, casting his bronzes with Pangolin Editions in Stroud. His most recent works include mountain gorillas cast in bronze or silver,( British Silver Week at Chatsworth,2009) a large seated Warthog (Portland Gallery, 2007) and Nomads: three larger bronzes of a Samburu Moran (Warrior) (Crucible Exhibition 2010, Gloucester Cathedral), Masai Boy with Goat and a Somali Woman and child, (Tryon Gallery, London, 2011)
Kenworthy has a worldwide following of private collectors, dealers and artists and his work appears on the secondary market with auction houses, Sothebys and Christies, in New York and London. A retrospective exhibition entitled 'Six Decades of Sculpture' was on at the Pangolin London, 90 York Way, London from March until April 2013. The exhibition was reviewed by William Packer in the Times on 6 April 2013 - 'Jonathan Kenworthy is, at 70, one of England's most remarkable modern sculptors, and also one of its most successful'.
- Daily Express, 10 November 1964
- Wildtiere by Reinhold R. Hofmann, Published by M7H Schaper, Hanover, 2007
- The Field 25 November 1965
- Daily Express 27 November 1965. "Times 1965
- Incurable Collector, New York 19 October - 2 November 1967
- World About Us BBC 2, 9 May 1976 Daily Express
- Sunday Times 29 September 1968
Books and Articles
- "A sculptor's animalier magic" by William Packer April 6, 2013 Times.
- Jonathan Kenworthy Sculpture and Works on Paper by James Silbert, Photography Steve Russell, Published by LionTree Publications, 2007.
- Animals in Bronze by Christopher Payne 1986 Published by Antique Collectors Club
- Mud Fire Metal Bronze Sculpture Casting & Patination Published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2002
- The Connoisseur Magazine The Shape of the Action Article by John Heminway August 1985
- Tatler Magazine Casts of Thousands by Laura Aitken Volume 288 2nd Feb 1993
- Town and Country USA Epiphanies by John Heminway July 1999