John Plowman writes:
A gallery discussion at Longside Gallery,
Yorkshire Sculpture Park on Thursday 23 January 2014, 2-4pm.
The discussion will revolve around a single work, Charles Hewlings’ ‘At the Foot of Borobudur’ (1976) which was acquired by the Arts Council Collection in 1977 and which has been presented at Longside Gallery especially for the event. The image above shows the work as displayed at the Acme Gallery 1976.
This event is part of a research project that I have been conducting over the last year at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds where I was the recipient of a research support placement. During my time at the Institute I used the library and the Charles Hewlings archive, to research ‘At the Foot of Borobudur’ (1976). A sculpture I have been fascinated by ever since I first saw it as a student on display at Acme Gallery in 1976 (the year before it entered the Arts Council Collection).
The aim of the event is to explore my interest in certain aspects of this period of the history of British Sculpture. How the experience of encountering it at the Acme Gallery in 1976 has stayed with me during the intervening years and contributed to the development of my sculptural practice. I will share my thoughts on this sculpture, the time of its making and of my own experience as a student at Eastbourne College of Art and then, from 1977 and 1980, in the sculpture department at Leicester Polytechnic. This period of my artistic life was framed by the issues of Artscribe published during this period. I would want participants to join me in opening up a discussion to understand the various contexts of ‘At the Foot of Borobudur’ more fully. I am particularly interested in the role of ‘stacking’ in sculpture at that time, the idea of a sculpture ‘that is alien to my sculpture self’, as Charles described it in 1998, and of homelessness in sculpture.
The day is a collaboration between the Henry Moore Institute and the Arts Council Collection. If you would like to come to this event and take part in the discussions please can you let Kirstie Gregory at the Henry More Institute know.
The work which must now include the work of revisiting an original context through (dis)agreement and (re)assembly, resides within certain extending structures (the museum, the critical journal, the circumstances of collaboration itself et cetera) as being without ‘domicile’, to a state of existence generally isolated from connection with other things. In 2014 Charles Hewlings and John Plowman’s ‘At the Foot of Borobudur (1976)’ is necessarily a temporary, and inefficient structure, intended to generate an intellectual space from its impossibility, to ennoble ‘homelessness’ in thinking the work of art prior to managing its constructability. Questions arise, as to how can we donate a critical value to the object, once withdrawn from the speculation of it as a work of art, without consulting the evidences of all the networks that corresponded in its (re)composition - all the multiplying contradictions that oppose settlement and completion performed, or better ‘scored’ by disjunction; and characterised by referral to a sacred temple, in the title 'At the Foot of Borobudur'. Chance operates in the contradiction between object and origin, personal encounter and sacral thing. Criticism can ‘make’ a work important, drawing attention back to and from a work’s critical capacity. Its performativity is mediated by citations and familiarity, but acknowledges the overlap of belief and fact remains correlational to a totemic function. The multiple existences open continual adjustment to the problematic of the work’s self-identicality. In ‘stacking’ and ‘collapsing’ its parts, the object situation is to be de-territorialised. The rebuilt structure, recomposing rocks and wooden shelving, is specific to a situation. It might just rearrange the militant character of that situation once repeated. Break with the mimesis of the work, in the name of its live event rather than from outside the present situation. It is an entirely abnormal multiple: none of its elements are representable in the situation.