Almuth Tebbenhoff is inspired by process: she loves the way objects of beauty and intrigue can emerge from a noisy session cutting and welding steel, sparks flying in every sense, or from a quieter but no less messy afternoon pushing wet clay around.
It’s the simple fact of working with her hands to distil from dull, reluctant matter pieces that are always interesting, always challenging, invariably searching, frequently witty, often profound, and sometimes breathtakingly lovely. It is this physical labour of art that draws her restless spirit to sculpture.
She was born in Furstenau in north-west Germany. In 1969 she moved to the UK where she studied ceramics at the Sir John Cass School of Art from 1972 to 1975. Following that, she set up a studio in London and for the next six years made studio ceramics, while she developed her ideas for sculpture.
Her early pieces were monochrome, mostly grey, abstract explorations of space and volume through geometric devices. Since the early nineties, Almuth has been moving towards a freer mode of expression, creating explosive forms in bright colours through a steady evolution of processes, investigating her current themes of light, space and the origins of matter.
“Sculpture is my language. First I worked with clay for over ten years, then I started using steel, a material that my father had used for his functional, agricultural inventions. Steel became my main material for the next 20 years and I invented my own particular technique using steel angle section. I wanted to achieve undulating lines without bending the steel - that felt too messy, so I made ‘pixillated’ curves by cutting randomly angled pieces and welding them together. I developed large opensided containers from lines that moved and danced and to me looked humanised rather than industrial. These containers without walls made from steel angle section are very close to my heart. It’s the emptiness within them that has become such an important part of my life through silent meditation, which I have been practicing since 1983. There are several of them in public places such as St. George’s Hospital in SW London and Chiswick Park, Richard Rogers’ development.
In 2006 I was offered a scholarship to learn to carve marble in northern Italy during a three months residency. Then followed an intense period of learning to carve. Steel had given me angular skeletal structures and the engineering side of my brain loved to solve geometric puzzles. The missing bit had been volume, which I got from marble. I now bounce between these two main materials, still making sculptures about light entering into a space/material and revealing nothing that you could put your finger on.”