This article explores the variegated plays of concrete as a travelling concept through four specific examples, viewed from the locality of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle in 2015. It is argued that ‘concrete’ makes possible a triangulated reading practice in, of and for sculpture. The first example looks to the use of concrete, as a material, in some of the ‘technical’ experiments of Henry Moore from the 1920s and 1930s. The second example is the only public concrete sculpture by Barbara Hepworth on record, entitled Turning Forms. This is a kinetic work that was commissioned for the Festival of Britain in 1951. The psychic registrations of form-in-concrete are addressed through the aesthetic reception and understanding of these works. The third example examines the interplay between abstraction and concretion in a work of structural engineering: the Arqiva transmission tower on Emley Moor. This structure is a working utilitarian model of the telecommunications industry which took hold in the 1960s and 1970s. It is also a sculptural monument in a landscape of other design ‘types’. The fourth example considers the recent display of Lygia Clark's Bichos at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, in 2014–2015. Bicho Pássaro do Espaço [‘Creature Passing through Space’] (1960) reveals a particular translation between concrete thinking and concrete experience. These examples call upon the semantics of the concrete as a thought process and will track a journey into a region marked by three interconnected points: the concrete specificity in the material works selected, the broader field of concrete forms within which the sculptural may sit and the philosophical/aesthetic language of concrete for sculpture.
- Department of Art and Communication - Director of Graduate Education
- School of Art, Design and Architecture
- Centre for Cultural Ecologies in Art, Design and Architecture - Co-Director