Islington artist Sophie Dickens is working hard to create a new collection for her October exhibition that’s taking over Sladmore Contemporary Art Gallery. Charlotte Veryard is granted an early view of the artist’s work in progress

Sladmore Contemporary Art Gallery in Bruton Place has been taken over by a troop of five large acrobatic monkeys. Before panic sets in, however, the monkeys have not escaped from London Zoo, but have been spectacularly sculpted by Sophie Dickens. The monkey take over is in preparation for Sophie Dicken’s exhibition at the gallery in October.

The exterior of Sladmore Contemporary is not the only place that has been decorated with Sophie’s art work: head inside and you will encounter 13 rat sculptures too. Sophie chose to create rats as she is fascinated by the way they move. ‘A rat wouldn’t readily come to mind when buying or making a sculpture,’ she admits, ‘but they actually have a lot of humour and make amazing shapes. You either love them or hate them.’

Sophie took around two years to create her collection and was inspired to produce a series of rats and monkeys because of the different positions you are able to put them in, as well as the animation of animal sculptures. ‘I like the idea that you can do what you like when sculpting animals because of the shapes they make. I wanted to make them look like they were coming off the pedestals and into real space,’ Sophie explains.

As a sculptor, Sophie is interested in human and animal anatomies and enjoys the movement that a sculpture can generate. ‘I create sculptures that are based around circularity and it is interesting the momentum that they produce, especially when there is a group of sculptures,’ she explains. The sculptor has worked on other major projects around London such as the 2012 London Olympic Judo statue, in which she was able to create circular motions throughout.


Sophie Dickens’ monkeys take over Sladmore Contemporary Art Gallery

The October exhibition also features sculptures of the four winds, river gods and Olympic musclemen, reflecting her love for Greek tradition and her knowledge in History of Art. What’s more, this is her first solo event, a fact that does not faze her at all. ‘You can’t possibly worry about an exhibition if you are an artist,’ she waves me away. ‘I am confident in what I have created and I just don’t think about what other people think – you just can’t if you are an artist.’

Sophie would like to expand her troop of monkeys in the future and hopes that they will hopefully take over some other buildings too. With Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in cinemas now, here’s an opportunity to get even closer to nature of a different kind.

Sophie Dickens’ exhibition at Sladmore Contemporary Art Gallery opens on 1 October – keep updated with her progress at