Naomi Press is a contemporary sculptor, who was born in Poland, raised in Zimbabwe and now divides her time between London, New York and Cape Town. She has been functionally blind since her forties due to a neurological disorder. Nevertheless she has had a successful seven-decade-long career.
She works exclusively in sculpture but in a variety of different materials – bronze, marble, terracotta and steel. Many of her bronze sculptures depict female nudes. Her work belongs to the grand tradition of abstract sculpture – in both its timeless aesthetics and mastery of different materials.The art historian Robert Metzger praised her work, saying: “[Press’ sculpture] projects the viewer into a timeless world where form and feeling have been integrated. This is a world which values the profound life-affirming experience of her sculpture – a deeply felt, graceful encounter.”
Press’ work in New Hall Art Collection is called ‘Improvisation’ and stands in Murray Edwards College’s Orchard Court alongside another abstract sculpture – Barbara Hepworth’s ‘Ascending Form (Gloria)’. Though the sculpture is abstract, the title suggests that it might depict a dancer in movement. Press herself was trained as a ballet dancer, so this may be a reference to her own biography.