Last Friday evening, 19th June, I had the pleasure of accompanying my mum to a lecture at the Royal Academy. It's been a while since I had been to one, the last being a couple of years ago on Turner and was held at the National Gallery. There is always that moment of anything post work that is a tad intellectual, if you are going to a. keep awake (post a day at work, and already a long commute) and b. understand it. I admit I was a little clueless on knowing who it was we were going to listen to an Q&A session on, I had failed to do any sort of research...so I was going in a little blind.
The talk was with Conrad Shawcross RA a name, as previously mentioned, not one I had come across and as it turned out is a bit of a pity as I came away really loving and appreciating his work. The lecture/ Q&A / interview whatever you want to call it, was a lively talk with a man whose really rather quiet and unassuming. He was a pleasure to listen too.
I really now also have a major appreciation for anyone whose willing to come up with the concept for a large scale outdoor installation. Especially one that involved 8,000 individually welded, tetrahedrons. The sheer number alone, not even factoring in the number of man hours to construct it, then ship and construct it, is pretty spectacular and that's even before you look at the final piece itself.
The making of Conrad Shawcross RA's 'The Dappled Light of the Sun' from Royal Academy of Arts on Vimeo.
Back to the talk which was on his installation piece 'The Dappled Light of the Sun' which can be found in the Annenberg Courtyard at the Royal Academy. Rather impressive venue, and place to have such an amazing piece of work. Now I didn't get a very good shot of the piece, that beautifully shows the dappling shadow work, which amazingly looks more like the shadows of trees and leaves, than a ton of metal. However, this shot taken by the artist himself, shows it perfectly:
Of course, the work of creating the thousands of tets, wasn't just by the artist, and what was nice about the talk was Conrad's appreciation for the expertise and skills involved in the project, from the fabricators Ken Ware Engineers in Newark, with profiling by Cutting Technologies, and with his own going work with Peter Laidler, Structure Workshop (engineering design practice).
What I find amazing, is that something that is made of weathered steel, weighs over 25 tonnes can look so fluid, natural and just beautiful. Think it's easy to forget that steel isn't something ugly, or just merely for practicality (construction) that it can be something that can replicate or be inspired by nature.
So if you get the opportunity nip along to the RA, whilst no location for its permanent home has been found, as of yet, I am sure a perfect place will be found for it soon.
It will also be worth keeping an eye on the progress of the new Francis Crick Institute building that is presently being built in King's Cross, London, as Conrad Shawcross won the commission to design an installation for outside the building. To quote from the 'The Dappled Light of the Sun' book, 'where the RA installation 'maps the installation of the tetrahedron over a sprawling horizontal plane, Paradigm (2016) takes up its vertical impetus'.
I am rather looking forward to the final outcome, it won't be hard to miss, and so I will certainly be making a point next year to go and have a look for myself.
You can also see some of his work at Dulwick Park, The Three Perpetual Chords.