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The idea of commissioning David West to produce work for the newly opened Radcliffe House came as the direct result of the popularity of the exhibition 'Castles in the Air' shown in the Mead Gallery in November and December 1987. He was encouraged to consider the University Campus and the surrounding landscape, his aim being:
"to carve a view of the University set within the landscape"
He spent time walking the campus recording the relation of buildings to landscape,taking photographs and making drawings, which he used to produce the work back at his studio in Lyme Regis.
There are restraints with a commission, particularly a commission by invitation and there are the undeniable constraints of the architecture of the building the artist is asked to work for. While the element of fantasy which is the hallmark of West's work, is noticeably absent, the quality of observation and craftmanship remains paramount.
David West trained as a painter and printmaker but he has chosen to work predominantly in wood since the 1970s. He began making wooden models to fulfil commissions which were mainly architectural pieces.