Maggie Cullen to exhibit at Wirksworth Festival

Picture%20009The exquisite sculptures of Maggie Cullen are so fascinating that you could spend hours staring in wonder and still not see every detail.

The fragility of the perfectly crafted figures and the inventiveness behind the intricate tableaux are extraordinary, but then so is the woman who creates them.

The artist, who lives in a cottage hidden away in the lanes of Bolehill, radiates energy and inspiration and clearly lives for her work.

She says she had a colourful chaotic upbringing in a tiny overcrowded house in the Black Country and at 15 when her mother died she left home to go to art school in Exeter.

She later secured herself a place at the Royal College of Art: School of Sculpture and laid the foundations for the figurative work she does now.

For many years she taught sculpture at colleges in London and the south, which meant she had little time to develop her own work and instead was creating ‘through other people’s hands’.

She moved to Derbyshire in the 80s with her partner Tim and son Daniel and worked as curator and exhibitions organiser at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, the Museum of Childhood at Sudbury Hall and Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

“Now though I am a full time artist and I have slowly been picking up the threads of where I left off all those years ago,” she explained.

“If you keep your baby in your back pocket when you finally take it back out again it is all sort of fresh. It has taken me a few years to perfect what I am doing but I think now I have found my medium.

“I just love working with my fingers and creating these figures is a joy. The ideas just keep coming from nowhere and I am definitely not short of inspiration.”

Maggie works with paper, discarded books, found material and natural moorland debris.

The small scale and delicate materials are an important part of the concept as her work is inspired by human frailty and the banality of day-to-day life fused with religious beliefs, village rituals and legends.

It might be an inscription in a book, its cover or a quote from the text that sets her imagination going. The Green Man, Morris Dancing and stone circles have also influenced her creations.

Maggie has exhibited at the Wirksworth Festival many times but this year she is part of the main contemporary visual art programme which has Transformations as its theme. Her work will be on display in St Mary’s Church over the trail weekend and on September 19, 20, and 26.

Her work, entitled Human Stories, will include a large circle of 12 figures made from reconstructed moorland debris gathered from Black Rock near Cromford and Stanton Moor.

“The sculpture is going to be placed in the centre of the church which some believe may have actually been built on the site of a stone circle. I was thrilled when I heard where the curator was putting it, as that is exactly where I would have wanted it to go,” she said.

Find out more about Maggie and her work at