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Notes on the sculpture, 2016-17

The ten previous posts (below) show sculptures that together represent something of a continuum of development, but are also in many respects a break from older work. That earlier work attempted to make expressive headway with structures still partially linked to the limitations of “objecthood”. Everything seems a little freer now, and the slow path towards the liberation of sculptural content means the work is able to engage even more directly, both physically and spatially, with the viewer. The non-deterministic structural activity and the spontaneous organisation and orientation of the constituents of the work have yielded a yet deeper incursion into the unexplored complexities of sculptural three-dimensionality – though there remains a long way to go on that score.

The rolling and tumbling steelwork of Habia Rubica that led directly to the proceedings of Rubica-Ornans and Grand Rubica has in the latter works been “counterpointed” with the addition of wooden elements. These had been included for the first time in a sculpture called Insignia, shown in Brancaster Chronicles at the Heritage Gallery, 2017, which on return to the studio was dismantled, pared back, rearranged and combined with other content to form UPressure. This recycling of the more robust passages from previous sculpture and from a scrap-pile of “put-aside” workings has now become an established and fundamental part of the inception of new work. What’s more, how the steelwork is thought about and assembled has further evolved over the course of these ten works, and, consequently, how it can be viewed has altered too. The “rolling and tumbling” has been superseded by a very different kind of movement through the material. In fact, it’s probably more accurate to say that the movement is now in-and-through the sculpture, rather than in the material. That’s a development I’d like to further consolidate in the work before I say too much more about it.

What I can say now is that a “free-floating” intentionality in the micro-content of the work is key to my personal approach to making abstract sculpture. I see this as being more critical to progress than the recent business of hanging the work (instead of sitting it on the floor). The hanging first happened in Yellow Rattle and Grand Rubica as an organic variation of existing studio practises, and although it is decisive in how some of this work is viewed, it is more likely a necessary consequence of the new content than its instigator.

The freedom of the constructed parts of the work to embody manifold potential actions is “the capacity to achieve what is of value in a range of circumstances” (to appropriate a Nicholas Maxwell definition). Far from destroying any intended meaning in the work, this more fluid thinking uncovers spontaneous and unexpected aspects to three-dimensional expressivity that can better contribute towards visual/physical/spatial structures absolutely unique to abstract sculpture.

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