Two of the installed sculptures resonated for me. They were both in Cambridge, they were both vandalised beyond repair and amazingly they both emanated from St. Martins, how astonishing is that? Well not really as they were both selected by one of our finest, Phillip King. The first of my dynamic duo was Barry Flanagan. Flanagan had blown me away with his exhibition in '66 at the Rowan Gallery. Sacks, sand, ropes, it was all a revelation, I recall an early Tremlett show, probably his first after the Royal College, which did the same thing for me, riveted steel and ropes, that's before he lost the plot of course, and decided the world would be a better place if every where looked like an East German transit centre, murals for the comrades. The good people of Cambridge in '72 were always going to have a problem with Flanagan, they stomped all over the work and destroyed it, always helpful to get meaningful feedback.
The second condemned man on Laundress Green was Brower Hatcher, an American sculptor who had been a graduate at St Martins and then joined the teaching staff. Brower was responsible for one of my most singular art experiences, indelible. I knew Brower because during his St. Martin's days he moved to live and work in my parish, Frampton Mansell in Gloucestershire. I recall a first supper party, celebrations for a new arrival, a fine homemade crib, delicious Mexican dips and discussions on cooking placenta. Brower was working with coloured wire, or perhaps colouring wire/metal constructions would be closer to the mark, a very different world to the one I inhabited. Brower's workshops were above the valley where I lived and where every morning I would walk through fields and woods to ascend the far valley side, up to Ralph Brown's studios in Oakridge. Stand by for the poetry, 'when I walked out one fine and misty morning', well something like that, anyway I crested the sloping meadow and got zapped by a Hatcher.
This early morning exchange took place before I knew we had an American in the vicinity. How had it got there, who did it belong to, where had it come from, blah blah, all became clear as the day progressed, I had seen nothing like this before, I suspect I was seeing it in the perfect situation and it was extraordinary. This was colour in sculpture as I had never envisaged it, modulated colour, transient colour, as akin to a natural phenomena as you could get, brilliant, no bloody bright red girders here. Brower will be in Leeds in November with other artists who contributed to the original 1972 project.
AGED AND AWKWARD