Tom Merrifield (1932 –) was born in Sydney, Australia. He trained extensively in dance, becoming a classical ballet dancer and soloist for the Borovansky Ballet Company from the age of 16. He moved to England in 1956 to perform as a principle dancer in numerous famous ballets such as West Side Story and On the Town. His illustrious career as a dancer lead to a passion for movement and capturing the magic of gesture and bodily expression, which is evident in the sculptural work he has produced.
As the youngest dancer in the Borovansky Ballet Company, Tom Merrifield’s success as a dancer continued to flourish when he moved to London, where he was regarded as one of the greatest dancers of his time. As an injury brought on an early end to his career, he turned to other forms of bodily expression finding huge accomplishment in the act of moulding bodies through sculpture. His statuettes of dancers, many of whom were acquaintances, friends and former colleagues, are created from life. His method of working is to engage fully with his subject, creating many drawing studies and pastel sketches, which result in the gestural and elegant works that are so recognizable. His sculptures range from ornamental sizes to full size statues and can be found across the world, in the galleries of New York, to a Red Cross commissioned bust of Princess Diana at the British Headquarters.
Pas de deux
Tom Merrifield’s Pas de deux follows his characteristic bronze-work sculptures. The figures are depicted as strong, slender and supple performing ballet positions. The pas de deux is one of the most challenging of ballet dances, requiring two bodies to move as a singular unit and create art. The sculpture shows Merrifield’s capacity to show human physicality and strength in solid forms. The manifestation of the human capacity to move and create art with the body as a medium is realized in the sculpture, where two forms seem to move in an eternal dance of partnership and inner stability. Tom Merrifield’s work captures and embodies this practice, creating a moment of extreme physical strength, and solidifying this experience into a frozen and eternal physical manifestation.