Sculpture Journal

The First World War and the business of making sculpture: Joseph Cribb, apprentice, craftsman and soldier

Sculpture Journal (2016), 25, (1), 65–79.

Abstract

The life and work of Herbert Joseph Cribb (known as Joseph, 1892–1967) stands apart from the traditional narratives of the history of British sculpture in the first half of the twentieth century. The Mapping Sculpture project (2007–10) has revealed the broad range of artistic processes and traditions, as well as the extent to which the production of sculpture remained a collaborative and craft-based endeavour. This article contributes to that more complex reality. Cribb saw his life and work as that of a craftsman, not an artist, as he himself would have understood the distinction. This distinction is apparent in an examination of Cribb’s engagement, both as a soldier and a draughtsman, with the First World War, a conflict that led him from fighting on the front line in the Battle of the Somme, to planning railway lines and, eventually, to working for the Imperial War Graves commission. His post-war career concentrated on war memorials and gravestones and though his experience would undoubtedly have had an impact on him personally, this cannot readily be seen his work.

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Author details

Cribb, Ruth