As an indulged only child my great joy in my early teenage years was a subscription to Studio International. It's monthly arrival was much anticipated, the glossy world of contempory art slapped through the letterbox of my parent's suburban semi and my small world exploded with sophisticated imagery, criticism I struggled to decipher, reviews of London shows and New York exhibitions, interviews with artists hereto unheard of. It triggered in me a striving, a struggle that has persisted unresolved to this day. Many of it's pages are as fresh to me now as they were when first seen on my formica topped kitchen table, and the work of many artists which puzzled and perplexed my too receptive mind, linger on even now.
Many of these artists first glimpsed in the Studio grew in stature and have remained a constant touchstone, Ivor Abrahams's Red Ridind Hood was a revelation, and his work still informs me, Brett Whiteley's painting at that time intrigued but his flame didn't sustain, way lost I fear. The Studio brought me to Hubert Dalwood, he did not become a lifelong companion but his 1962 sculpture " O.A.S. Assassins" was to me, as a flailing young art student, inspirational. The O.A.S. was a French paramilitary organisation dedicated to maintaining French colonial rule in Algeria. During the 1950's and early 60's they carried out bombings and assassinations in Algeria and mainland France, their exploits brought France close to the brink of political chaos. Their regime of terror was closely followed by the right wing British press, my father's newspaper occupied a place on the breakfast table so I was only too aware of the terror stalking France. The Dalwood sculpture was a very traditionally crafted 'lump', cast in aluminium , painted and pierced with a ribbon, but with it's sliced drum form, inscription and medal it seemed to resonate with the problems modern France was suffering with the end of Empire and white supremacy. A tombstone for the times, I felt it quite compelling and with it's overt political message, albeit veiled in the whimsy that haunted much of Dalwood's work, it struck as something quite new and refreshing.
Dalwood also made a contribution in terms of materials, in the early 60's bronze was still king and lost wax still the preferred casting technique. Dalwood made dirty industrial aluminium respectable and sand casting the way forward. Producing multiple editions in metal became affordable, and the medium, as I was later to find out, was incredibly versatile and would allow a miriad of finishes.
AGED AND AWKWARD