Llew Summers held his first exhibition in 1971. Following this he held many one-man shows as well as exhibiting alongside other celebrated artists including: Tony Fomison, Fatu Feu’u, Michael Smither, Tom Mutch, Peter Carson, Roger Hickin, Bing Dawe and Graham Bennett.
He believed the role of the artist is to challenge: “if it’s not challenging, then, in some way, it’s not new”. His interest lay primarily in figurative works celebratory of the human form, affirming the beauty of the human body. However, following a formative and revelatory overseas trip his use of religious symbolism developed and led to a preoccupation with winged forms; most often, but not exclusively, attached to bodies. These angels are an obvious melding of the human and the divine – bringing an explicitly spiritual element to his work and highlighting the important role of morality, and the spiritual dimension of human existence.
“What’s important to me is to get a balance between the physical and the spiritual in life. We’re given a soul and we’re given a body. Sculpture is a nice balance because works can be made which are deep and meaningful, but they require your physical body to produce them. Works must have soul, rather than being merely clever or smart.”
Llew’s larger works are ideal for garden settings and he regularly participated in outdoor sculpture shows such as those held at the Waitakaruru Arboretum and Sculpture Park, the Auckland Botanic Gardens, the NewDowse Gallery, Governors Bay and Sculpture in Central Otago (Wanaka).
Llew was the recipient of a number of awards including the Aotearoa Arts Festival Sculpture Award, BP Art Award and the BNZ art award. His work is held in private collections in New Zealand and also overseas in many countries including Australia, USA, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, Greece, Malawi, Sweden and Finland.
It is with much sadness that we acknowledge the passing on 1 August 2019 of much loved sculptor Llew Summers. Our thoughts go out to his partner Robyn and families as they celebrate his remarkable life. Llew leaves behind his life’s work, a legacy of unique sculptural pieces for all to enjoy. He will be greatly missed as a creative spirit, friend and colleague.