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Sophie Shapiro
The Ages of Man by Jacob Epstein <mail@sophieshapiro.com>

I have thought long and hard over the last few months about undertaking this project on Epstein. We all have our own methods of working. I work with my Spirit guides and occasionally the energy of a dead Spirit attaches itself to my psyche and I have to work through the highs and lows of these encounters. These are involuntary actions and not something I can put succinctly into words but I do at times feel the anguish of the unseen Spirit and their wounds. This particular journey began a few months ago, whilst watching a television programme about sculpture. I suddenly became aware of a strong presence and from that moment I have been on an incredible adventure with Epstein.

Jacob Epstein is one of the most significant figures in British sculpture. He was born in New York City in 1880, from Polish Jewish parents; and studied with Rodin in Paris. He later moved to England, where he received his first commission from the Medical Council in the Strand. The controversy around his work which depicted nudity, fertility and birth, all subjects considered inappropriate for public sculptures at the time, reached a pinnacle in 1907 with the unveiling of the magnificent sculptures know as The Ages of Man -18 monumental, anatomically correct nudes on the faÁade of the British Medical Association building (now Zimbabwe House) on The Strand. The sculptures were considered so shocking by Edwardian standards that they were later mutilated. This event shocked many artists around the world; one in particular was Henry Moore, another British sculpture.

In 1908 a campaign to remove the offending sculptures was matched by the appearance of a group of equally vocal supporters. Leading artists heaped praise on Epsteinís innovative work and the British Medical Association decided to stand by their artist. In 1923 the building was taken over by the Rhodesian government as their High Commission. By the 1930s the new owners appeared very keen to remove the sculptures which they claimed were deteriorating into a dangerous condition. Some have suggested that actually the straight-laced Rhodesians objected to the figures on the same grounds as the Edwardian moralists had a few decades previously. It may also have been that Epsteinís Jewish background counted against the art works. Whatever the reason the sculptures were not saved or repaired.

Today the shattered remains of Epsteinís work are still visible on the outside of what is Zimbabwe House. It is here that I raise my concerns. I have often been to view these shattered remains and it breaks my heart that such wonderful works of art have been destroyed. Woman of Infancy was a sculpture that Epstein created. It showed an old woman carrying a little baby in her arms. He was a modern visionary. After creating Rock Drill and encountering the horrors of World War I, he destroyed the original which was a remarkable narrative, predicting our futures in faraway times.

Many artists ask me questions which I cannot answer. I donít know why one work of art can attract hundreds of viewers and another none. I donít know what makes a person a successful artist. I donít know what galleries want or donít want. I only need to look at artists like Van Gogh, who had nothing, struggled and lived a life of poverty but were steadfast to their beliefs. I canít generate the answers in any concrete way. I believe that we are all creative animals and that we all need to find our own paths of self-transformation and investigate our higher potential though our mind, body and Spirit. Every one of us has the potential to grow and find a route that serves us and makes us feel whole and complete.

As a Spirit artist who encounters many past lives and is able to access these memories I find that I am very fortunate to have the support of my Spirit guides. There is purpose and meaning behind our life choices and creativity in any shape or form is the biggest gift we could possibly have and share. I would like to thank everyone for extending a welcoming hand of friendship and for constantly supporting my work, my site and my life.

Kind regards,
Sophie Shapiro
June, 15th 2011