Michael Sandle is one of the world’s foremost sculptors, his most famous work the Malta Siege Memorial at the entrance to Valletta’s Grand Harbour – commemorating those who died in the heroic defence of the island in the Second World War.
Michael Sandle studied at Douglas School of Art and Technology, Isle of Man from 1951 to 1954 and the Slade School of Fine Art, London from 1956 to 1959. In his early work he emphasised craftsmanship and the search for symbols, rejecting the formalism increasingly common in sculpture of the period.Throughout the 1960s and '70s he worked on a small range of individual works in which he explored abstract and figurative idioms.
Following his appointment as professor of sculpture at Pforzheim, Germany in 1973, and at Karlsruhe,Germany in 1980, Sandle's work became more monumental, partly in response to a series of significant commemorative commissions. His work voices criticisms of what Sandle describes as 'the heroic decadence' of capitalism, in particular its appetite for global conflict. He has also attacked the media for packaging and sanitising the destructiveness of war. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1994.
Sandle is traditional in regarding the sculptor’s role as a public one, in his case that of a memorialist: ‘One’s identity is inseparable from memory, who we are and whether life is worth living or not. The concept of anation is based on memory. History is always subject to review. Memory is far more important. If you disrespect death, you disrespect life; and if you disrespect life, then what’s the point of living?’
Sandle does not like to describe himself as a ‘sculptor’. It is too limited. He is an ‘artist’, for whom a three-dimensional masterpiece is the ultimate product of a process founded in drawing. In ‘getting the image right’ etching has a special significance for him, a medium which bridges drawing and sculpture, the line carved into the metal plate.
He has exhibited in numerous group exhibitions in Britain and internationally including the 5th Paris Biennale, 4th and 6th Documenta and Sao Paulo Biennale.