Christine Fox: Acclaimed sculptor whose work explored time and myth


Christine Fox was a sculptor whose output, over some 50 years, reveals her work to have been of national stature, versatile in subject, exploring a huge range of materials and styles. Walk the sculpture trails of Cambridge, where she lived, and her work is not overshadowed by that of such luminaries as Lynn Chadwick, Eric Gill, Barbara Hepworth, Denis Mitchell and Peter Randall-Page.

Time and myth were key features of her work, and in later years ancient artefacts, natural forms and landscape. Her own works sit in the landscape as if always there, charged with energy but with an impressive, hieratic composure. "The land is the anvil," she wrote in a sketchbook, "the wind and the rain which enter one's body create the forms."

Christine Fox was born in Bridlington in 1922, the youngest of seven children of Frederick Fox and his wife Ethel Vause. Frederick worked in grain storage but lost his job in the 1930s. Until her sister Phyllis married, Christine was taught by her at home, then spent a year at school in Leamington Spa until the family moved to Oxford. After secretarial school there she became a secretary at Charles Elton's Bureau of Animal Population.

After her three-year marriage to Alan Mitchell ended in 1948, Christine was a single mother to her daughter Alison and from 1951-56 ran the Cherry Tree nursery school in Cambridge. While there she met the painter and educationalist Nan Youngman, who recognised Fox's need for creative expression and recommended she try the Bath Academy of Art course at Corsham Court, Wiltshire, that educated artists to teach at all levels.

In 1956, when Fox began her three-year course, Corsham Court was one of the most exciting schools of its type in the country. She was briefly taught by Kenneth Armitage and by Bernard Meadows, sculptors who left a strong impression. On her return to Cambridge, Fox joined the Cambridge Society of Painters and Sculptors, which Youngman had launched in 1955, and she showed with it continually until its close in the mid-1990s.

To support herself, Fox taught part-time at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology from 1961-64. She left for three years to instruct trainee teachers at Homerton College, then returned to CCAT, retiring in 1988.

Her daughter Alison, who did her foundation course there, becoming a weaver of three-dimensional wire artworks, said her mother loved teaching: "She inspired many young sculptors and is often mentioned as the reason why they became sculptors." Her students were introduced to leading sculptors such as Michael Ayrton and Henry Moore and were taken to see Jim Ede's collection at Kettle's Yard. Fox was proud to have some of her sculptures cast by the foundry used by the demanding Moore. When Ede lent Fox Constantin Brancusi's precious sculpture Prometheus, she wrapped it in newspaper and took it home in the basket on her bicycle.

Not even broken bones deterred the indomitable Fox from delivering work for exhibition, recalls her friend Leon Stone. "I remember one eventful drive when she had a broken left arm. She drove and depressed the clutch while I changed gear for her, the car packed to the roof with precious bronze sculptures."

While working in CCAT's science department, Michael Crawley bought his first piece of Fox's work, one of the Axe Head series. During a friendship that lasted for many years, he added further pieces to his collection. The Axe Head is typical of themes that would recur over the years in Fox's work. As she explored new subjects the astonishing range of materials used grew, from slate, aluminium and clay to wood, rubber, sea sand and pebbles.

In 1976 she extended this to Asante bronze casting in Ghana, where she apprenticed to Amadu Kramo, which she funded by teaching sculpture two days a week at Kumasi's university. The book that arose from this period, Asante Brass Casting, appeared in 1988. Examining for the Cambridge University Local Examinations Certificate enabled her to travel not only to Africa but India and Malaysia and, after retirement, Mexico, Galapagos and Peru. Fox died in bed in her studio where, when she was able, her habit had been to begin work at 10am each day. "She worked through till she was tired, usually forgetting to eat at lunch-time," says Alison.

Fox was a prolific exhibitor. Her many sculptures bought for public places include Axe Carrier, Clare Hall Garden Court, Cambridge University, 1975; Batrachian Cascade, Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes, 1981; and Gathering of Owls, Darwin's Aviary, New Hall, Cambridge University, 1992.

Christine Hutton Fox, artist and teacher: born Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire 22 December 1922; married 1945 Alan Mitchell, (divorced 1948, died 1981, one daughter), 1967 Arthur Hibbert, (divorced 1970); died Coton, Cambridge 28 May 2012.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower