Ronald Moody was one of the most crucial Black British sculptors of his generation and the interwar period, who continues to inspire and be celebrated today. Born in Jamaica in 1900, Moody moved to London in 1923 to study dentistry at King’s College London. He was inspired by the British Museum’s expansive collection of Egyptian and Asian art, beginning his practice with no formal training. He moved to Paris in 1938, following a successful solo exhibition; however the Second World War meant he had to flee France, travelling to Spain before eventually returning to England in 1941. He re-established his presence in London following an exhibition at the Arcade Gallery, off Bond Street in 1946. Moody was involved in the activities of the Caribbean Artist Movement’s in the 1960s.
Moody’s Modernist work explores timeless and iconic images of humans and animals, inspired by metaphysical and eternal types. His monumental and often elusive sculptures command their space and while emphasising the grain and quality of the elm, teak and beech they are often carved in, remain curiously life-like. This feature was defined by the art critic Marie Seton as descriptive of the “inner content”, imaging everlasting notions of psychology and philosophy in a subtle and restrained manner. Moody’s work has been considered in relation to Henry Moore, as noted by Rasheed Araeen, as both artists worked within a common temporal space and grew out of British Modernism, even both frequenting the British Museum sculptural galleries.
Moody’s sculptures were exhibited in shows such as the 1935 Adams Gallery at Pall Mall Place exhibition on Negro Art, at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool (1935–37), and in two solo shows in Paris (1937) and Amsterdam (1938), as well as inclusion in multiple shows in America at this time.
Moody’s work has been posthumously exhibited in shows such as The Other Story at the Hayward Gallery, London (1989–90), the National Gallery of Jamaica (2000), and Spaces of Black Modernism at the Tate Britain, London (2015). Eleven of Moody’s key works were included in The Other Story, offering an introduction to the exhibition from an artist of an earlier generation.
Ronald Moody died in London in 1984.
Ronald Moody (1900–1984)
Annie 2, 1977
Specialising in wood sculpture, Jamaican-born Ronald Moody flourished in the late 1930s and beyond. From 1967, he was an active member of the Caribbean Artists Movement. In 1978, he received the Jamaica Institute Centenary Medal for contributions to art.
On loan from the Trustees of Cynthia Moody