The one-metre-high artwork – made from shaped sheets, rods and off-cuts of bronze, copper and iron elaborately welded together and polished to a high finish – conveys an impression of speed, grace and excitement with an underlying menace. It is estimated to fetch between £3,000 and £5,000 at auction.
Sean Rice took to motorcycling soon after studying sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools London from 1951 to 1953, and made early visits to Italy by motorcycle to study sculpture and architecture. He worked as a lecturer at Liverpool School of Art from 1967 to 1980, after which he started a foundry near Goodison Park in Everton, producing sculptures for many public sites in the region. He is best known for the remarkable series of Stations of the Cross sculptures in Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral, which Archbishop Derek Worlock gave to the Cathedral. Rice died in 1997.
Helmeted figures, with their faces obscured, began to make an appearance in Rice’s work following riots in the Toxteth area of Liverpool in 1981. The area was close to the sculptor’s home in Walton, and the incorporation of these faceless figures into his work are thought to be a response to the disturbing scenes Rice witnessed at the time.
Richard Hopkinson, Bonhams auctioneer who will preside over the sale, said: “This eye-catching sculpture represents a superb fusion of craftsmanship and artistry.
“It is most unusual for a major sculpture by Rice to appear on the market, as these works were usually specifically commissioned from the artist, and Bonhams is privileged to have been asked to sell this particular piece.”