SCULPTURE BY JOHN KNOX – THE GLEANER
Originally exhibited as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain, this sculpture shows a woman on a bended knee gathering, with the inscription ‘Thrift is the gleaner behind all human effort’.
A gleaner is someone who gathers something in small pieces (e.g. information) slowly and carefully. type of: accumulator, collector, gatherer. a person who is employed to collect payments (as for rent or taxes) someone who picks up grain left in the field by the harvesters.
Commissioned by the Ulster Savings Committee for the Festival of Britain, 1951. During the festival statue was displayed in the grounds of the Ulster Farm & Factory Exhibition at Castlereagh, Belfast. After the exhibition the statue was relocated to the grounds at Stormont. The Ulster Savings Committee also considered possibility of reproducing replicas to award to local Committees & Savings Groups of outstanding merit.
John Knox was born in Scotland sometime after 1910 and studied at the Glasgow School of Art, where he received a maintenance Scholarship in 1928. Knox was a member of the Glasgow School of Art club during his studies and exhibited sculptures with the Royal Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1930 and 1932. Knox relocated to Belfast in 1939 where he succeeded George MacCann as head of sculpture at the Belfast School of Art. Despite residing in Belfast for at least a decade, Knox did not exhibit with the Ulster Academy of Arts until 1949. Following this he exhibited sculptures at the Bangor Arts Committee exhibition in 1950, and at the Ulster Arts Club spring exhibition in the same year. Knox later became President of Ulster Arts Club from 1959-60.
In 1951 Knox was commissioned by the Ulster Savings Committee to carve a sculpture celebrating the Festival of Britain. Sculptors were called to submit a design to the committee, which included the head of the Belfast School of Art, Ivor Beaumont, the Director of the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery J. A. S. Stendall, Festival architect Henry Lynch-Robinson, and the well-known painter William Conor. Knox’s design consisted of a farm girl gleaning wheat in the old fashioned method of harvesting. During the Festival celebrations in Northern Ireland the sculpture, entitled The Gleaner, occupied a prominent position near the main entrance of the Ulster Farm and Factory exhibition – Belfast’s main Festival of Britain site – acting as a reminder of tradition and thrift alongside the aspirational farmhouse of the future, and reflecting the overall exhibition’s juxtaposition of rural traditions alongside modern industry. The Gleaner was carved by Knox in the stone yard of James Jamison & Son, a commercial sculpture firm based in Belfast. The statue is now situated in the grounds of Stormont Estate. Other works by Knox include a bronze plaque memorial for Belfast electrical engineer James S. Scott in 1949 (presumed destroyed) and a statue of King George V for Belfast’s King’s Hall in 1933.
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