Brancaster Chronicle No. 90: Mark Skilton Sculptures

Schrodinger’s Cat Cradle. 2018-2020
190cmsx162cmsx164cms (view 1)

Artists Statement

Most of these works were made as a result of comments made in B.C. 79 held on Oct 2019, where I showed “Transit of Mercury”. This was a seminal chronicle in many ways. The main issue for me concerned the relationship between space and material. I developed the view that space and material are essentially the same, with one being slightly denser than the other. Sculpture then became about modelling the relative densities of space/material.

 

Schrodinger’s Cat Cradle (view 2)

 

93 Sierra 2020 Aluminium
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93 Sierra (view 2)

 

Transit of Venus 2020 Steel
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Transit of Venus (view 2)

 

Transit of Venus (view 3)

 

Transit of Io 2020 Steel
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Transit of lo (view 2)

 

Transit of lo (view 3)

 

Ivy’s Star 2020 Steel/Aluminium
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Ivy’s Star (view 2)

 

Ivy’s Star (view 3)

 

Undercurrent 2021 Steel/Aluminium
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Undercurrent (view 2)

 

Undercurrent (view 3)

 

44 comments
  1. Saul Greenberg said:

    Love the hand of God in:
    Transit of Io 2020 Steel
    159cmsx67cmsx95cms (view 1)

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    • Saul Greenberg said:

      And the skirts of:)
      Transit of Venus 2020 Steel
      123cmsx95cmsx80cms (view 1)

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  2. Saul Greenberg said:

    And the lyrical airiness of them all.

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  3. noelajamesbewry said:

    These are very impressive sculptures Mark, there is so much richness, complexity and contradiction, strong sense of intense roaring movement through the work. Need to take time to absorb them. Fantastic!

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  4. timscott said:

    Mark – “…Sculpture then became about modelling the relative densities of space / material…”

    Taking the above ‘statement at face value, the sculptures are as adequate an idea for realising it as I can imagine.
    They are fresh, exciting, and full of verve.
    The introduction of the large elements, in my view, was a necessary step forward from before, though funnily enough, more successful in aluminium than in steel (‘Sierra’ rather than ‘Transit of lo’).
    I am not quite sure why this should be so; perhaps it is simply the ‘lightness’ effect of the aluminium against the rather turgid steel, making it easier to translate into ‘space’ ?
    However, I love the combination of the two materials: ‘Ivy’s Star’, ‘Undercurrent’.
    The only general comment that comes to mind, vis a vis the structure of what, in the end, is not space but, inevitably, a physical object of the material world, thereby subject to gravity and structural forces, is that. no sculpture, in the end, can afford to ignore or avoid this fact.
    Personally, I think that ‘Undercurrent’ is the most achieved in this respect because it seems to contain different types of space / material transmutation, doing different types of gravitational things. Density has a great deal to do with this; there are a strongly considered variety of visual densities to grasp as one explores the piece (photos notwithstanding as usual).
    It is interesting that the densities of the aluminium parts read visually quite differently to those of the steel parts, particularly in the larger elements.

    To return to your comment that: “…developing the view that space and material are essentially the same…”
    It is, of course, comparatively easy to imagine a piece of material as ‘space’; one has only to envisage the literal space it occupies to transform it (the occupied space) in the mind/eye, into a physical equivalent. It is far harder, however, to do the reverse and imagine literal space transformed into physical material. I am battling with similar attempts and could suggest that in order to adequately read ‘transformed literal space’, one requires also a lot of ‘untransformed literal space’ contained within the piece, to register the idea intensely enough ? Again, ‘Undercurrent’ is, in my view, the most successful example.with its less condensed format.

    So, space and material cannot actually be the same thing, but the mind eye can invent means, in sculpture, of making it seem so.
    I shall be very interested to hear what you and others have to say..

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Skilton said:

      Hi Tim. I am amazed that you can glean so much from these photographs.
      Of course you are right to say that space and material cannot be the same thing. I adopted the view that material is a denser form of space, as a way of overcoming the dominance of objectness in sculpture; or at least re-evaluating it. So much of objectness seems to be invested in the material itself. By constructing with space along with the pieces of stuff, I was able to create the sense of space expanding outward from the centre of the sculpture and taking the material along with it. The bigger pieces were added to put pressure on that expansive force, but are ultimately carried by it.
      In the end the spaciousness of space is an effect and not a tangible reality. It is the material that creates the space and gives it meaning.

      “A physical object of the material world, thereby subject to gravity and structural forces”. Yes this is essentially true; however I don’t think that a sculpture has to be a slave to gravity, or deterministic about structure. As you observed in ‘undercurrent’ I have tried both approaches; some literal physical structure, and some non physical non structural elements.
      It all comes back to the material again; making it do as much as it can to reinvent reality as art.

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  5. noelajamesbewry said:

    I am very interested in what Tim, so clearly, has to say about these sculptures. I too feel the larger elements in the aluminium pieces seem to translate into space very successfully, it could have something to do with the colour as well its versatility in the way Mark sometimes allows it to melt and pool.
    I know it can be a bit of a cliche to compare music to sculpture but Mark’s work really resonates as sound to me, Messiaen immediately came to mind. The still photos catch the material/space (notes/chords) and suspend them in air but in the real world as one moves round the sculptures there is a visual ‘playing out’ of the ‘sonic’ qualities, the complexity of the way in which the smaller elements are put together and visually held by the larger, all of which creates a unique experience.

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    • Mark Skilton said:

      Hi Noela. I also like the music analogy. Messiaen’s ‘quartet for the end of time’ is a favourite of mine.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. smart said:

    From Tony

    I am responding well to your musical analogy Noela.
    This could be an interesting ‘way in’ .Puts on hold the muddying waters of too much description.

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  7. timscott said:

    Noela – I myself have said (Abcrit) that I think the ‘new’ sculpture should aspire to be conceived, looked at, seen and discovered, in time, by the mind/eye in the same way that music is conceived, listened to, heard and absorbed, in time, by the mind/ ear.
    My reasoning was that sculpture which aims to convey its plastic visual emotions in this way will avoid the old formulae of presenting itself as a ‘whole’, a ‘one sided’ image; and will be much plastically richer for it.
    Likewise, the sculptor’s conception will,of necessity,become more truly concerned with what Mark calls “space /material modelling”.
    This said I, at the same time, am wary of too much Sculpture-Music analogy. Aural emotion, and how it is created, is a very long way from Visual plastic emotion, and how it is is created.. Musical ‘form’ and ‘space’ are in no way comparable to Sculptural ‘form’ and ‘space’.

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    • noelajamesbewry said:

      I agree with your last two sentences Tim, the ‘creation’ of music and sculpture are very different, I was thinking about the look of the work and imagining the kind of sound it could make, it just adds an extra dimension to the experience.

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  8. I was struck not only by the use of the material which is so inventive and open but the statement about the space and material. I identify with that completely and see a strong accord for painting. Being inventive in the handling and bearing down on that to such an extent that things happen. Furthermore, Mark could have all these richly varied component parts and just piled them into some sort of form, but there is an intense ‘drawing”, and an organising in such a spontaneous – yet highly deliberate – way. Each piece works hard for its inclusion and builds rewarding detail. The lightness of the aluminium also plays a role for me. It’s not just stuff, there’s a uplift going on. The larger pieces work in a number of ways-from the images. Aside from their role in the general sweep of form, they also seem to split into a concurrent spatial dialogue getting your eyes making bigger moves. This amplifies space as an experience of difference.
    I am not that bothered by issues of gravity as you could be really bloody-minded about it and say if it holds, it’s in: is there really the need to justify the connection and positioning through the means of construction? The melted pieces have an almost witty usurping of forged parts.
    Question: Regarding the bigger abrupt flat sections: Would you consider doing something, at times, to that flat plane to push at the space from the flat rather than the edges? I can see the odd drop of melted aluminium on a larger piece of melted section and it adds more. I enjoy how literal pieces such as angles, tubes, regular chunks drop away from their literalness and work as sculptural content; I don’t regard them as part to part pieces.

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  9. smart said:

    From Tony

    These sculptures of Marks are wonderful!
    They are thrilling in their eccentricity, abundance, exuberance.detail, the list is endless, and the list of qualities is a new way of making sense.
    I cannot argue with one word of Emyr’s comment.

    The hook that Mark has given us concerning “space and material” is of continuing interest.! What Emyr says about the material ” working hard ” to survive and be included sounds obvious, but it is the criteria for the inclusion that should interest us too ! There is and always has been a disregard in Mark’s approach to sculptural conventions At his best he is making it up as he goes along. So there will be oddities and they may rise or fall in importance. The point about invention is its origins are based on ” need ‘ ! A sense that something is missing promoting invention.
    You are right Emyr about it not being a ‘ pile of stuff ‘ , but many of the conventions of putting stuff together are evolving in the work and first sight , particularly in photographs, can be misleading .Sometimes at first glance it might look like a pile or some other unknown!
    Unfamiliarity is often the spur for criticism . So you are right Emyr to accept the ‘ gravity ‘ thing you describe.
    Your question Emyr raises for me a question that has been on my mind since we reviewed the Tim Scott sculptures .
    Is it a scale issue , a shape issue , or as you say an issue of ” flatness ‘ in a three dimensional world ? , and can ,as you suggest, the flatness be overcome by addition to that flatness ? .
    What I will say at the moment is that in photographs a sculpture made of planes has an immediate clarity in shot No. 1.
    but that clarity diminishes in further shots, as the broad plane becomes a line.
    I do feel that to a lesser extent Mark may have re-introduced this problem.
    I would also ask the question whether flat solid planes are obscuring views and aspects to the three dimensionality.

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    • Mark Skilton said:

      I think that the plane becoming the edge problem might also be an opportunity.
      I started using planes in these sculptures, as I was finding the complex spatial three dimensionality, too three dimensional. We do not see three dimensions. we see a series of 2D images and construct three dimensional space from them in our minds. Consequently, as we move around a visually complex sculpture, information overload forces everything into a drone which we can comprehend but we lose all of the detail. I was finding that the form I was able to develop spatially and three dimensionally, was getting lost or lessened by the visual drone of the rest of the sculpture. Introducing a 2D surface provided a platform where the eye can rest and then take off from again. In this role I only wanted a plane in a specific place for a specific purpose, so am happy if it can collapse in to an edge. In other roles the planes are just big edges.

      So yes, they do block access to the sculpture in places only to release it later. Overall, I do not think that they affect the transparency in a bad way. Rather like rocks in a stream can divert the flow but not hinder it.

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  10. Regarding the “accord with painting”. I am not implying that sculpture and painting work in the same way. I am suggesting the principles underneath are shared – in fact I would go further and say that such a principle based accord can be connected to across numerous other “disciplines”. (radial analogy, previous thread) What I am specifically referring to in Mark’s work, that I myself connect with, is the bearing down on the material to create the space. What that space looks and feels like in each discipline is a moot point. The more unfamiliar perhaps the flagging up of a fresher kind of space?

    In this work I would suggest it is pretty evident that the amount of rich invention and – perhaps consequentially – disregard for convention, is to be found in the “de-literalising” of the individual pieces of metal. I can, if I want to, to pick out: tube, square, sheet, cut chunk, pre-formed parts, melted bits etc, etc but they do not reveal themselves as such. They have put on their greasepaint and hit the stage and the show has begun – the newly synthesised world of the unfolding drama invites us to enjoy the performance (there’s one example of another discipline, at least). I repeat, Mark could’ve got lots of juicy bits of steel and chucked them about and welded them up: it would look engaging and interesting as the parts in themselves are such. At some point though – even if this was a starting point, there would be the absence of the heat of scrutiny.

    The late Anthony Burgess said: “Creativity should be surrounded by a ring of fire”. He also said “The questioning of linguistic conventions is one of the main duties of what we call literature”… If there is no questioning, just an acceptance, where’s the Art? The issue here is: is a flaunting of certain sculptural ‘truths’ a diminishing outcome and as such a loss to its expressiveness – as “sculpture”? In Mark’s case this would result in the question: would this work be better by following the structural logic of built forces, rather than assembled ones? I have no answer but an increasingly nagging acknowledgement that classical mechanics falls flat on its arse at the quantum level. We are discovering that reality is a lot more bizarre than we first thought – why allow physicists to have all the fun?

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  11. timscott said:

    Tony – A flat surface (of any area) on a piece of material helps make the mass below it – determinate..
    In any sculpture the parts, in their actions, purpose and aesthetic aims need to be be visually – determinate.
    Without any determinate surfaces you remain with lump and bump indeterminance (?) on the mass below..
    (A fact which, incidentally, cropped up frequently with forging steel you will remember).

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  12. Hilde Skilton said:

    When looking at ‘ Transit of Venus’ l experienced a feeling of pressure bearing down…the pressure from the air above. The two dimensional planes and the rest of the material are impacted by the air from above, around and within. The air becoming a necessary visual and credible aspect of the sculpture.

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    • Mark Skilton said:

      Interestingly, I think that effect you are referring to is generated by the upward and outward force of the expanding space/material structure underneath the plates. An example of how material can influence space beyond the perceived boundary of the sculpture.

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  13. smart said:

    From Tony

    Mark
    Good comment , It is very clear what you are saying.

    At first I did take the ‘ drone ‘ bit literally , but realise you mean noise, visual noise !! The reason I think this is good is , as with the drone, I may see something, like your plates ,and I feel them to be an issue. Clearly. for you they are not.
    As Emyr says “We are discovering that reality is a bit more bizarre than we first thought “…and the information base on which this new thinking is founded is becoming more diluted.
    Going forward, however, the danger may be that we cease to believe what we see and begin to alter the ‘meaning’ to fit the quandary
    Without question I can believe that many will see this as an exciting development, for both abstract sculpture and abstract painting.

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    • Mark Skilton said:

      I think that at the moment we all have the sense that our view of reality is changing, but that we don’t yet know quite how or what it is meant to look like. Is this not what Emyr is referring to in his ‘accord with painting above’?

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  14. harleysculpture said:

    The larger aluminium elements in these sculptures are possibly working ‘better’ because of the fluidity -the literal puddles of aluminium. The larger steel elements create a distinctive edge, something that has cropped up in previous chronicle discussions. The aluminium appears more in tune with its relationship with smaller areas constructed around it; perhaps it is just the softness or perhaps it is something to do with the more relational scale. the aluminium contrasts more directly with the surrounding construct, the angular steel v soft edge ali. The aluminium edges in Sierra engage with the space in a far more invitational way, there appears a more subtle engagement, it doesn’t square up the to the space in the same way as the steel. The steel pulls no punches, I like the large section at the top of Transit of Io (view 1 top left) with the steel, it contains the fizz of action around it but allows that action to bounce off it. It feels like a really integrated piece.

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    • Mark Skilton said:

      Hi Alex. The problem with the steel plate is that it is manufactured and is absolutely unrelenting in its hard intractable surface. As you say it pulls no punches. I used that quality deliberately to make the more detailed construction ‘bounce ‘ as you put it. By contrast,Emyr picked up on the surface details in my sloppy aluminium casting technique as a possible way of developing surface in sculpture. This is all that age old problem of transforming a material in to something that has its own meaning and not a hangover from a previous life.

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  15. smart said:

    From Tony

    Transit of Low has an interesting configuration. A ‘concertina’ like structure pulled out into a ‘wall’ -like form.
    In the pulling out there must be a pulling back and in. What I imagine about this piece, without its thicker large pieces, it would have, could have, been quite capable of relying on the smaller pieces, smaller and also similar sized pieces, to carry out these movements and more. In fact, they would have also been a greater vehicle for the creation of its three dimensionality. Could it be, that given the already extended form, the “intractable” heavy pieces tip the sculpture towards the pictorial? Maybe, somewhere in the making, the desire for greater contrast than that already in the meaning, necessitated a literal ,contrasting of the two types of material. The bounce one gets from the close abutting of difference for difference sake, for the sake, maybe, of variety, when in essence again I say , all this could be or was available in the more singular approach. [ singular does not mean minimal ]
    Interestingly, putting the two sizes together creates a loud noise, maybe too loud for the small pieces, because it is impossible to look at one without the other. Either way, and of course you could say I would say that, in support I turn to your piece Ivy Star a piece full of intent and a clear enough overall form. I can see it’s wholeness without the contrast.

    Thoughts anyone ?

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    • Not really pictorial (?) but pivoting on “difference”: There is the physical twisting and multitudinous connections going off in many directions breaking up any dominant views and making things very three-dimensional. Also, there are the different materials, sizes, shapes and so on. Facture and colour are playing a role (in the acknowledgment of the materials). Edges can run along, flow (aluminium puddling) arc or stutter about (due to cut marks). There will be a rollercoaster happening with this – moving forces and pressures, then the abrupt placement of larger chunks which literally throws a spanner in the works, which jolt things, slow things and play leap frog with focal points . These new forces are not “mechanical” – in having a supportive, tensioning functionality; they (at first glance) seem to lean to a weighing up of compositional form and a counteraction to the fizziness of the smaller pieces. Is this pictorial decision-making? An analogy to “opera” – neither music, nor theatre (vis: Neither sculpture (as was), nor painting (as is). (the problem here is the word “painting”, perhaps, as I find that means very different things to different people).
      I said an accord as the awareness of material difference – facture/colour/density/lateral and centrifugal forces all can be expressively evident in a painting: the actualities / concrete realities. The surface of a piece of flat steel that is presented here has a facture to it. This was probably not wilfully considered as such but it is there and when another blob of molten aluminium drops on a larger area, this is a – significant- change IF you are tuned to use it and consider it important (I would say here’s an example of an accord with painting that I would choose to look at ). That little blob breaks the plane, pushes forwards and competes as detail with everything else in the work.
      The perception of reality is constantly being built out of memory and spatial sensation. We can (and do) fast lane things in this perception and see only what we remember and ignore that which we consider unimportant. It’s just an issue of degrees of engagement – how far do you go? I can only say from my own experience of moving paint that a small change of facture can have a profound effect -through colour and consequentially change the expressiveness. The form of the piece of metal IS being apprehended – our brains ARE picking up on it and noticing it – that is how we recognise it. We acknowledge the mechanics of support, balance, tension etc and we may twitch when something is just ‘there’ – almost an uninvited guest who is seemingly not saying anything functional but looks “nice”.The realities of the party ARE now new. Is it spoiling our (preconceived?) ideas of the party or are our ideas of the party the problem?
      The other issue would be how could such large pieces become more functional in terms of their mechanics rather than their visuality? Which leads to: MUST sculpture have these mechanical truths as part of its DNA? (They could, also have greater pressures placed upon them – bowing, edges cut at different angles, holes, scratches, scuffs.) I find myself wanting to get my colour to be more physical or perhaps more “there” not physical in a display of heavier loadings, but as degrees of density from opaque to gossamer thin washes which can be wonderfully expressive – and bloody challenging to get hold of “functionally” rather than decoratively. I return to my question: Is this the best they can be made in this way and if not how would things be improved? I can re-paint a piece of colour, invariably after “a while” when seen as part of the larger work. Time is crucial. You cannot cheat it.
      A piano is actually a “piano-forte” (actually it was originally a “fortepiano” – meaning loud soft). It can, under the best hands and minds, make the most extraordinary sounds… I see NO connection with visual art in music other than in principle… If you cannot control those keys, your music will not be there – it’s just noise. What I like here is the intensity of the “music”. I am not sure what exactly I am listening to yet, that’s all.

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    • Hilde Skilton said:

      Tony…a change of energy rather than pictorial….or an expanding of energy…working in a three dimensional way.

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  16. smart said:

    From Tony
    Hilde…
    you seem to be talking about the influence of the small pieces of steel [ same size pieces too ] twisting and turning…
    …but seemingly inconsequentially attached …in my imagination I am getting no influence from the small pieces of steel on the large slabs ?
    I cannot imagine that the slabs are three dimensional …I am absolutely in love with the smaller pieces ….

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  17. timscott said:

    But Tony – Who wants an orchestra entirely composed of Piccolos ? What about the ‘Cellos and the Trombones ? The Clarinets and the Double Bases ? the French Horns, even the Kettle Drums ?

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  18. Hilde Skilton said:

    Tony, even though the two dimensional nature of some pieces are just that, they work in a three dimensional way with the rest of the material….as Alex also says ‘ The steel pulls no punches, I like the large section at the top of Transit of Io (view 1 top left) with the steel, it contains the fizz of action around it but allows that action to bounce off it. It feels like a really integrated piece.’

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    • smart said:

      From Tony
      Hilde

      That some of the pieces are two dimensional is a fact.
      That they work in a three dimensional way etc. is an opinion and therefore part of a discussion. It simply means that Alex and I hold a different opinion. What anybody does with that could be the future of abstract sculpture.

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  19. smart said:

    From Tony

    Thoughts in my mind going forward

    It is what I want sculpture to do…if you want large make it feel large [ and you would already be doing more with the material than simply presenting it ] Choosing size off the rail is literal. What is sculpture if it is not to do with transforming material and space? I do not like your orchestra metaphor Tim, I think it inappropriate . It is already possible to have more than one activity running at the same time as a sequence of properly abstract sculpture. That simple idea was born of necessity in trying to address the world of three dimensionality beyond the simple height ,width, depth, or as is often said “material shooting off in all directions”. Height, width and depth is but one measurement being assimilated at a time. In today’s abstract sculpture and nowhere else is the opportunity of saying with material everything simultaneously, and with feeling ! the feeling of three dimensionality not literal measurements.

    Fortunately there is something about this approach which is not to everyone’s taste.That can only be good !

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  20. Mark Skilton said:

    I think that in a sculpture that is so violently non literal and non referential you need literal to measure it by; otherwise what you have is incomprehensible.

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  21. Mark Skilton said:

    I suppose what I am saying here is, that you cannot have abstract without the literal.

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  22. smart said:

    From Tony
    What an unexpected and fresh comment that is Mark.

    I have always thought that we connect though construction, how its made and that being of itself physical is the literal bit.
    That I would counter by creating space in such away as to contradict the making. Not contradict through engaging opposites eg big/little…hard/soft.
    What is important here is whatever the moves necessary to engage material and space are pursued solely to create a more coherent three dimensionality.
    Plastic and spatial [ not literal ] Plastic and spatial three dimensionality does not exist in the world, perhaps that alone is the non-literal and the abstract ? whilst the construction, being literal ,provides the way in, imaginatively.!

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    • Mark Skilton said:

      Construction is not literal. It may have been in the past when we were making pseudo tables and bridges, constructing in a predetermined way, but not now. Now construction is the making, the decisions, the intelligence behind the work. I see literal as a quality of the material. The starting point from which material is transformed in to abstract space/material.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. tim scott said:

    Mark and Tony – ” The starting point from which material is transformed into abstract space/material”, is surely the point at which the sculptor’s mind/eye realises the possibility of infusing its literal nature with sufficient quantities of aesthetically inventive and original “transforming” to justify and validate the “construction’ of doing so.at all..
    All the “starting points” then have to find an equally justifiable reason for coming together into a ‘whole’; – more “construction”.
    If “literal” reading of an element is (by choice) to remain,as a contrast to the “transforming”;by other elements, that reason must be as visually intense as that underlying those transformations,
    It will consist of down to earth ‘recognition’, the opposite of “incomprehension”,.as against the “non literal, non referential” transformations “creating space”.

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  24. smart said:

    From Tony

    Mark

    “…whilst the construction, being literal provides the way in, imaginatively !” ..[ from myself ]
    Your comment is about the transformation of material into abstract space/ material…on that we seem to agree…I am trying to make the case that all of this and more is in the attempt to create for sculpture a new three dimensionality.

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  25. Mark Skilton said:

    So do you think that these sculptures are in some way contributing to that new three dimensionality? What is it that makes it new and not something that has always been there?

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  26. timscott said:

    Which brings us to the vexed question as to what exactly is ” three dimensional -ITY” ?
    It is not something known to physics (to my knowledge); therefore must be what the sculptor invents in the process of ‘constructing” a personal imaginative plastic world of three dimensions.
    That world will, I presume, be a reflection of the sculptor’s experiences, abilities, originality, and consequently, unique ?
    What it won’t be, is some sort of defined, premeditated el dorado goal.

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  27. smart said:

    From Tony

    Morning Mark….in answer ..yes I do think your sculptures are contributing …..
    and two answers to your other question.
    ..one…the day to day unravelling by ourselves to the best of our ability, honesty and common decency.
    ..and two…the recognition by someone else.

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  28. smart said:

    From Tony

    Tim…you seem to already know what three dimensionality is…if you are asking me I see it as an ambition ,another layer
    [in effect ] in the development of abstract sculpture…something that had thus far been avoided.

    I was not given a ticket which says I have some right to be a sculptor and telling me what to do and how to do it..
    Then I got lucky and met up with a few like minded people and one of them said, “the trouble with sculpture at the moment is it’s not physical” that was for me when today got started.

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    • Tony – Just staying on the smaller pieces seems to lead to contraction and expansion forces, only (?) (you use the word concertina – which is just that). When Mark introduces materials with different natures and sizes, new more unpredictable forces are present – the resolution of these into something meaningful would be a moot point; they look pretty convincing from photos but I can also see the problems (so great to have problems to look at!) of such contrasting forces. I can see the lure of the smaller pieces doing ALL the lifting but something about that makes me nervous in that I wonder if it leads to a sort of connoisseurship or even a didacticism.

      Mark: “construction is the making, the decisions, the intelligence behind the work. I see literal as a quality of the material. The starting point from which material is transformed in to abstract space/material.” Very true: that’s also painting.

      Yes, transformation of the material:. Well, how far does that go? how much transformation is the challenge, surely? I’m all for what Mark is putting out here as it seems to be a huge effort at that very transformation…and what of painting by comparison?

      Tony: “the trouble with sculpture at the moment is it’s not physical” This – for me – the crux of the challenge facing painting (the accord). By physical, I do not mean heavy paint… I mean “heavy!” paint.

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    • Mark Skilton said:

      That would have been John Foster at Stockwell Depot. It was that physicality that determined by own course in sculpture, back in the 70s.

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  29. timscott said:

    Tony – A little bit invidious to be accused of proposing “..seem to.know what three dimensionality is…” when I was actually suggesting the opposite: I said ” must be” and “I presume”, both of which express either the possibility of alternatives, or doubt !

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  30. smart said:

    From Tony

    In these most interesting of Chronicles 2021…the challenge, and challenge there must be in new abstract painting and sculpture, has been to that ‘ holy grail ‘ of so called abstract art ,that figurative hangover of part to part , part to whole.
    The possibility that that route to success could be replaced by something else has met with some opposition. That some alternative ‘ stream ‘ could become ,in sculpture, fully three dimensional , which would stand unsupported by convention, that challenge has been made. And that is sort of where we are now.
    Mark’s two sculptures ” Ivy’s Star ” and ” Undercurrent ” , are ,for me, exactly this. They are a constant ‘ stream’ of material and space , and more than that , ‘ feeling ‘ invested through manipulation into seemingly independent structure. [ That is certainly how they come across to me ]
    Further, they are, by reducing the options , able to be more specific and present to the world a greater , more challenging sculpture, ready to stand or fall on its chosen priorities. And that is the point, they are bold in their being specific, they are in not answering all the elements of sculpture able to concentrate on those he thinks need priority !
    And that is why I believe his sculptures are wonderful.

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