John Buckley (sculptor)

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Untitled, 1986, by John Buckley.

John Buckley (born 1945 in Leeds, England)[1] is an English sculptor whose best known work is the sculpture "Untitled 1986", better known as "the Shark House" or "The Headington Shark" in Headington, a suburb of Oxford.

Buckley went to sculpture classes in the evenings when studying for his O-levels in a technical college. He went on to Winchester School of Art and Leicester College of Art, and thereafter worked as a lorry driver and labourer while getting his career as sculptor off the ground.[1]

In 1976, his friend Bill Heine invited Buckley to design the sculptural fixtures on the Penultimate Picture Palace.[2] For the facade Buckley chose a dramatic figure reminiscent of Al Jolson with outstretched hands.[3] Mae West's lips were the inspiration for the cinema's door handles and, somewhat later Buckley would erect a male and a female figure above the toilet entrances, whimsically named Pearl and Dean.

In 1978, a work of his (Pagliaccio) was exhibited by Nicholas Treadwell at the Washington Art Fair,[4] and he stayed with Treadwell for some time thereafter.[1]

The "Headington Shark" was erected on the 41st anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Made of fibreglass on the farm near Wallingford, Oxfordshire where he was based, the shark itself weighs 203 kilograms and is 25 feet long. Buckley regards it as an integral part of "Untitled 1986" or "Shark House", a work of "Mixed Media, Brick, slates, wood, metal, polyester resin, glass, plaster, oil paint, lace curtaining and window boxes……."[5]

In the village of Checkendon in South Oxfordshire is his public work 'The Nuba Survival' which features two giant skeletons embracing each other.[6]The piece was created in 2001 after ghe visited the Nuba peoples in Sudan.[7]

Nuba Survival, 2001, by John Buckley.

John Buckley is a patron of MAG (Mines Advisory Group),[8] a neutral and impartial humanitarian organisation.


  1. ^ a b c Treadwell, Nicholas (1980). Super Humanism: A British Art Movement. London: Nicholas Treadwell Books.
  2. ^ Heine, Bill (2011). The Hunting of the Shark. Oxford: Oxfordfolio. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-0-9567405-2-6. Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ Hibbert, Christopher, ed. (1988). "Cinemas". The Encyclopaedia of Oxford. Macmillan. pp. 88–89. ISBN 0-333-39917-X.
  4. ^ Nicholas Treadwell, "Superhumanism",, 6 November 2007. Accessed 2010-08-18.
  5. ^ John Buckley, "Headington Shark", Accessed 2010-08-18.
  6. ^ "Return to Checkendon and the Nuba Survival". 5 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Checkendon Sculpture – The Nuba Embrace". 16 February 2008.
  8. ^ John Buckley, "Can art influence politics", Accessed 2010-08-18.

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