Richard Deacon – A Sculpted Transcript

From his talk at the ICIA Bath on Thursday 5th December 2013

 
 
The list you can see up there on the board is a list of all the materials I have used to make sculpture over the last… nearly 50 years.
It’s a big list.
Materials are the basis on which a sculptor lives and also our lives.
Materials are important.
It’s difficult to make sense of a long period of working without reducing down.
All the work I’m going to show tonight is made from one material.
Wood.
So this list runs from Oak to MDF.
This is the first sculpture I made in a studio I owned.
I began by making the biggest square.
There was never a prior drawing.
This is made of hardboard.
1978
This started with an oval.
The idea of both was these were to be made of one material.
This material was the language.
The reason why its got those white bits on it, is I had to cut it by hand and I wasn’t that good.
So I had to fill some gaps.
These are three quite formal explorations.
They are made with a concentration, reduced down.
I looked for a flexible wood.
This was 1980.
This circle was the largest I could lay out.
There is a relationship between the piece and the space it was made in.
Fixing tow points in space.
There’s a lot of drawing in the work.
These lack…
I was interested in making something that only had a light contact with the ground.
Of course, once you start making curved things they start to look like other things…
I would still describe myself as an abstract sculptor.
I started to title things.
They started to look like things, so they had names.
That twist you’ll see towards the end of the talk, if we get there.
An ear relates to ideas about resonance.
Then the laminates start to get involved with other materials.
…a strange mixture between an eye and a plough.
Ploughing and looking are a similar activity.
I see looking as being an aggressive activity.
This one’s called, ‘Like a Bird’.
And then, the…
My titles tend to chew over.
This one’s called, ‘Turning a Blind Eye Again’.
The work’s called, ‘Blind, Deaf and Dumb’.
This is the Serpentine Gallery, the old one.
I changed the glass in the gallery.
…a large object that wobbled.
The material is laminated wood.
The glue is getting more and more interesting.
There’s something very satisfying about the way it squeezes out.
It’s obvious.
The glue is an equal partner.
This is a simple laminate, but there is a layer of satin in the glue.
This is called, ‘Fish out of Water’.
This is 1987 now.
These are starting to be large objects.
Large laminates.
Clothe coverings.
The glue is posing problems for me.
…instead of laminating I just stuffed…
…it can be piled up.
The piece on the right is stitched together.
It’s a crossover.
It’s the late 80’s when AIDS is starting to be a problem.
Something in my brain was wondering about how things were mutating.
The colour bit is vinyl inlays.
I began to want to move in a different direction.
This curve is resin.
The next group are mostly kinds of solids.
The plastic surface has a distancing effect.
The wood is used more like bricklaying.
This is a shell, a wooden shell.
Then I had another breakthrough.
I thought about chairs.
…bending, steam bending pieces of wood.
Once you get the idea, then you can go on.
This took a long time to make and was really boring.
There were six of us.
After we made this, we said we aren’t going to do this again.
The temptation to do repetitions on a large scale is something I’m prone to.
These have open ends.
This is something I don’t like.
This is called ‘Restless’.
When you twist a piece of wood end to end, you’re compressing and stretching.
That’s been the driving force with the last pieces.
There were hard to make, so we stopped.
 
(Stephen Monger)