MARTIN JENNINGS has been making public sculpture in Britain for many years. His representations of great writers and poets are particularly well-known: John Betjeman at St Pancras Station, Philip Larkin in Hull, Charles Dickens in Portsmouth and George Orwell outside BBC Broadcasting House.
Celebrated figures from the medical profession have also featured prominently, with John Radcliffe in Oxford, Archibald McIndoe in East Grinstead and Mary Seacole outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London. His sculpture of prime minister Stanley Baldwin stands in Bewdley, Worcestershire, and a seated figure of actor Ronnie Barker in Aylesbury.
His sculptures are cast in bronze with accompanying text carved in stone or slate around them. The Women of Steel in Sheffield and George Orwell at the BBC each received the national PMSA Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture in 2017 and 2018.
Jennings studied calligraphy, lettercutting and stonecarving following an MA in English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford. Over the following years he fulfilled numerous commissions to carve memorials and architectural inscriptions for churches and churchyards, cathedrals, colleges and public buildings.
Increasingly he was commissioned to carve stone figure sculptures and to model portrait busts from life in his Oxford studio. Subjects have included record-breaking athlete Roger Bannister, prime minister Edward Heath, actor Edward Fox and many others.
In the year 2000 Jennings’s sculpture of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the last to be modelled from the sitter in her lifetime, was installed in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.
London’s National Portrait Gallery owns three of Jennings’s works including a bronze mask of author Philip Pullman and a portrait cast in sterling silver of eminent lawyer Lord Bingham of Cornhill.