“With some of my paintings, I’m building a monument to the working men who no longer have jobs. The ships aren’t built in my town anymore; the steel and iron has gone. The men are now unemployed. I’m putting that precious history down. I want to capture the passion of when they did work; the molting of the metal, the sound of hammers on steel.” -Mackenzie Thorpe
In this limited edition bronze sculpture for sale, Mackenzie Thorpe shows four men pulling a gigantic heart, that seems to be very heavy, while three additional men push it from behind. It appears to be a considerable effort as the men are putting everything they have into the task. Each man is wearing simple attire, plain shirts, suspenders, caps or duffle coats, that Thorpe typically uses to illustrate that they are working class men.
Thorpe was born in the industrial town of Middlesbrough in the 1950s, where his father worked as a laborer and his mother as an auxiliary nurse. The town was very blue collar, employing the majority of the workers in shipyards or other general laborer positions. In the late 1800s, steel production and ship building began in the port city.
During his childhood, Thorpe saw the closure of some of the major steel and ship production facilities. Many families were left without work and he acknowledges that at times, it was a struggle. He has mixed emotions about this period of his life. Thorpe remembers a feeling of loneliness but also, a strong sense of community spirit as many families were experiencing this hardship. The town pulled together in the face of adversity, leaving him with a sense of hope and pride that he clearly communicates in his artwork. There was beauty in the men who lost their jobs; Their lives were hard but they worked even harder and were valued with a sense of purpose.
The theme of pulling a big heart is something Thorpe continues to explore in his artwork. It represents the search for love, the need for it and its power. In some of Thorpe’s work, a single child pulls a heart that is 10x his size. This piece is interesting as it suggests that several men are needed to pull the heart that a child could on his own. Perhaps it is more challenging for these men to give and receive love after the hardships that they have been through. Children are able to easily express hope and love, it’s only as we grow older that prejudices develop.
Thorpe loves to work in a bronze medium as it allows for the figures to be strong, like they are wearing a suit of armor. The men are protected while they bring their love from one location to the next. Thorpe can play with the medium, utilizing delicate features, like the string around the heart, while still creating a strong message.
Thorpe’s perspective on life and recognition of his roots are clear. He does not hide the fact that there are often struggles or that darkness exists in the world. However, he believes that our dreams are worth nurturing and that love and hope will help us to triumph over any adversity. This Mackenzie Thorpe sculpture is available for sale at Marcus Ashley Gallery along with works by over 40+ of the most famous artists of our time. Located in Lake Tahoe, Marcus Ashley Gallery is recognized for its outstanding service, which includes custom framing, private home shows for clients within 60 miles and worldwide shipping.