Catégorie : Interview

Yorkshire Sculpture Park Bill Viola

Yorkshire Sculpture Park Bill Viola


Yorkshire Sculpture Park  Bill Viola


Bill Viola and Kira Perov, (Yorkshire Sculpture Park)

Yorkshire Sculpture Park / Bill Viola

Bill Viola, in Mt Rainier coffee shop, 1979, Photo Kira Perov


Interview exclusive pour la France et Regard au Pluriel par Rajesh Punj

Yorkshire Sculpture Park  Bill Viola




Interview Rajesh Punj


With an impressive spread of Bill Viola works across England this autumn to coincide with Frieze, it warrants of an audience the emotional elasticity to devote themselves to Viola’s divine cannon of animated imagery, in order to feel for the elemental truths in his work. And whereas Yorkshire Sculpture Park (from where I have interviewed Bill Viola and Kira Perov), houses a striking body of technically sophiscated video works that span the last ten years, Blain Southern gallery have concentrated entirely on lesser known works that have to date generated greater discussion than they have been seen. The Vinyl Factory Space temporarily houses Viola’s 1982 sound installation The Talking Drum, which resonates throughout the Brewer Street Car Park, like an aching animalistic chant. While the gallery have reconfigured the installation Moving Stillness (Mt. Rainer) 1979 for their central London space.

Histrionics aside, the allure of such a seminal work profits as much from time, as it does from our reengagement with the work. Darkened entirely, as is standard with Viola works, Moving Stillness (Mt. Rainer) reads like an animated postcard that is suspended above a pool of shallow water. As our comprehension of this picturesque image of a monumental landmark, accompanied by the trapping of art, (light and dark, sound and space); demonstrates Viola’s early interest in the ephemeral being reincarnated as art. And as much as the image is a representation of the real, its relocation into a galley setting is further augmented by the periodic disturbances of the water’s surface, directly beneath the projected image. Which refract the coloured light and reintroduce the representational, or unreal back into the work. And as a meditative withdrawal from reality’s ugly truths, Viola seeks solace in a more reductive, almost cathartic space, as a redeemer for others’ sins.



Rajesh Punj: Upon entering into one of your darkened installations what interests me is of the varying scale of the works; and of the duality between what is happening and of the anticipation of what is to come.


Bill Viola: The work is always about life and death, and of birth, light and darkness. Those are the fundamental ideas or elements that we create, Kira and I. And it has always been there in humanity. So you really need to feel and think, and to persist with something. Because there is so much in the world right now, it has become overwhelming. With ISIS and all those other kinds of things, it is unbelievable. So now I think it is a really important moment for all of us, and not just here in England, or back home in Los Angeles, but on the planet.

So that connects with us really deeply, and many of the pieces come out of some of those ideas. And for me I am always making things, and I am always thinking about things in relation to those kinds of ideas; as they act as a backdrop to my work.


Kira Perov: Specifically with the exhibition we thought of the location here (in Yorkshire) strongly, and we didn’t realise how much it would influence and effect the work. Because we have done a lot of landscape work previously, and mostly this show is not about landscape, it is about human beings, and it is all internalised. There is plenty of landscape out there. We have a tree piece called The Darker Side of Dawn 2005, and I was thinking there are thousands of trees out there. Why would we want to bring one inside the gallery? So the (YSP) show is about relationships, it is figurative, it is about transition. It is about how we think about our own morality. When I started to do this (exhibition) guide I felt, ‘oh my goodness there are all these couples. There are two people in Night Vigil 2005-2009; there are two people in The Trail 2015.


Whether it is about their relationships, or whether it is about their own exploration and transformation, wherever, it doesn’t matter. With The Veiling 1995, there are two people in the piece, a man and a woman and at no point do they come together, expect in the electronic space that we have constructed with the projections on these veils that are part of an installation. And normally the projections appear on separate screens. Night Vigil is one of those works that appears on two separate screens with opposing things happening at the same time. One has cascading water, the other has fire, and then eventually the fire becomes the water; and then the water transforms back into fire. So there are these kinds of reversals of the elements that are going on. And we also intended that there are relationships set up between two screens, even though we shot them at separate times. And there are these older figures on granite, Man searching for Immortality/ Woman Searching for Eternity 2013; and I am looking at this and thinking, ‘wow, did we unconsciously put together this show that is very much coordinated, and also deals with the outside, and the park.’


BV: The sculpture park is perfect for this, it is amazing.


RP: The environment appears to allow for the kind of contemplation your work requires of it.


BV: Yes of course, this is an amazing place to stay with something.


KP: The piece in the chapel looks like it was created for that space, and as such it is an amazing work within this landscape.


RP: So correct me if I am wrong, but does this feel unique to you? Of your locating works in this kind of immersive environment, having done something similar in Italy in 2012?


KP: Yes the closest thing was in Varese in Italy, for the Panza collection, but not really the same thing. They have a beautiful estate and all the rest of it, but you are not surrounded by sheep and so much of the rural. With the ponds, gardens and lakes (at the Villa e Collezione Panza), it became more of an urban situation and much less of a singular environment.


BV: And all of the natural elements that you have here (at YSP).


RP: Returning to the work, as an observer I am very interested in the elements that constitute your moving images irrespective of scale. Is there an impeccable understanding between you both of what you want of a work?

BV: It was the elements that we were both (Kira and I), grabbing.


RP: There are possibly two overarching themes that come to the fore with your work, ‘the elements’ that you have referred to, and what appears to be a ‘study of spirituality’. How would you explain that in terms of the external forces you have described?


BV: I think people become the cast of these works, in order to elevate the thing that is around all of us; but you have to go deeper and deeper into it. And I think in a way we have all of this technology around us, which is another big thing that has come into our world, and it is this thing that is making us crazy sometimes. So all of these things are interacting with us right now. And when the pope came over, (to the United States for an official visit); it was really incredible.


RP: Spirituality reintroducing itself through one man. Do you see such virtue acting as an energy in some ways for a new generation?


BV: Yes there is that kind of reconnection, whereby you start to realise that ‘yes’ something is happening. And it is a shift, there is a global shift right now. And I see that young people coming up right now have absolute carte blanche to do anything. They can get out and kind of do whatever they want to, which is incredibly exciting. It allows for the next thing, because you always have to do something. It is great to have older people, all of us who have worked so hard for all of this time. It is really great, but at a certain moment you have to step back and let the next group of people in, and say ‘go guys, see what you can do with this, the old guys have done what they have done.’ And then they will take it from there.


KP: Bill is always talking about that. Essentially we have had different phrases of working. Bill was originally self-referential, he turned the camera on himself a lot, in order to experiment with perception; and even transformation and transploration too. It is about how far you can go in order to involve the individual, and to include the self. And then we did a lot of landscape work, and working in the studio with a lot of actors, seeking to recreate passions and emotions. Which led to us working on a series of ‘mega works’ that included Going Forth By Day (2002), The Passions (2003), The Tristan Project (2004), the opera Tristan und Isolde (2005). And then we have taken the scale and spiritual drama of those works and tried to apply them to new work like The Trail 2015, dealing with acts of violence on the body, and of our trying to explore that further through material form.



Rajesh Punj, October 2015




Yorkshire Sculpture Park / Bill Viola



Yorkshire Sculpture Park Bill ViolaYorkshire Sculpture Park Bill ViolaYorkshire Sculpture Park Bill ViolaYorkshire Sculpture Park / Bill ViolaYorkshire Sculpture Park / Bill ViolaNight Vigil, 2005-2009. Video installation. Colour High-Definition rear-projection video diptych, two large screens mounted on wall in dark room. Overall projected image size: 201 x 528 cm. Room dimensions variable. 9:20 minutes. Performers: Jeff Mills, Lisa Rhoden





Yorkshire Sculpture Park / Bill ViolaYorkshire Sculpture Park / Bill ViolaThe Trial, 2015. Colour High-Definition video diptych on plasma displays mounted vertically on wall; two channels of mono sound 160.4 x 186.2 x 89 cm. 7:39 minutes. Performers: Jana Kolarikova, Peter Moffatt



All images © Kira Perov, courtesy Bill Viola Studio



Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin - Interview

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin  Interview

En exclusivité pour Regard au Pluriel

Interview de Polly Morgan, Londres

 par Rajesh Punj

Polly Morgan - Arrangement of Skin - Interview

© Tessa Angus / Polly Morgan

 Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin  Interview

Conversation dans l’Atelier à Londres

Notre correspondant Rajesh Punj a rencontré cet été l’artiste et taxidermiste Polly Morgan dans son atelier à Londres, juste avant son exposition newyorkaise. Cette artiste est un de mes premiers coups de cœur publié sur Regard au Pluriel en 2009.

Alors, alors…je suis très fière de vous présenter en exclusivité cet entretien et ses dernières œuvres ! Grâce au talent de Rajesh elle nous dévoile toute sa sensibilité, nous parle de ses premiers pas dans la scène artistique anglaise, de ses œuvres antérieurs, sa rencontre avec l’artiste britannique Banksy, et de son succès trop précoce – ce malgré l’absence de formation artistique formelle. C’est l’honnêteté de Polly qui imprègne cet échange simple et intéressant.

L’entrevue me touche – en tant qu’Artiste et Rédactrice je suis passée par des étapes similaires. Je vous invite à découvrir Polly Morgan, son univers, ses oeuvres!

L’interview a été réalisée en anglais. Hélas je n’ai pas de traduction appropriée du texte. Peut-être que vous pouvez nous aider ? Contactez-nous avec en objet « traduction anglais français ».

Studio interview in London

This summer our very talented London correspondent Rajesh Punj met accomplished artist and taxidermist Polly Morgan at her London studio, prior to her New York solo show. Renowned for her theatrical miniature melodramas of animals interlaced with objects, as implausible scenes staged in encased glass. Morgan has gone from a university degree in English Literature to becoming an established artist; via an indulgence in making work, and being spotted early on by British Graffiti artist Banksy.

In a candid conversation about her introduction to the art scene; of her insistence upon making work in-spite of her lack of a formal art background; and her naivety for taking on too much too soon. Morgan’s honesty and integrity makes it an easy exchange. Morgan’s relationship with her work, her recent departure from her early approach to taxidermy, and her maturing style, makes her an artist with a future. Beyond the circumstances of style. And as editor and artiste Polly Morgan has touched me personally for her sincerity and discursive candour, when discussing her work and the ideas that propel her practice. I’m very proud to present her work and this conversation on Regard of Pluriel.

Ateliergespräch in London

Im Sommer hat unser Korrespondent Rajesh Punj die Künstlerin und Tierpräparatorin Polly Morgan in ihrem Atelier in London getroffen. Das war kurz vor ihrer New Yorker Einzelausstellung. Bekannt wurde Morgan mit theatralischen Miniatur-Tierobjekten, die sie in fantastischen Szenen unter Glashauben inszenierte.

Mit einem Hochschulabschluss in englischer Literatur schaffte es Polly Morgen durch hartnäckige Arbeit, sich einen Namen als etablierte Künstlerin zu machen. Schon früh wurde sie vom britischen Graffiti-Künstler Banksy entdeckt.

Im Gespräch erwähnt sie ihren Einstieg in die Kunstszene, ihre früheren Werke, das beharrliche Vorwärtsgehen in ihrer Arbeit – dies trotz fehlendem formal-künstlerischem Hintergrund – und ihren viel zu frühen Erfolg. Polly’s Ehrlichkeit und Integrität sorgen für einen einfachen und sehr interessanten Austausch.

Das Interview bewegt mich persönlich. Als Redakteurin und Künstlerin prägen mich ähnliche Einflüsse und Hinterfragungen. Ich möchte Sie einladen, Polly Morgan, ihre Beziehung zur künstlerischen Arbeit und ihre grosse Sensibilität zu entdecken.

Das Interview wurde in Englischer Sprache geführt. Leider kann ich keine angemessene Übersetzung des Textes zur Verfügung stellen. Vielleicht können Sie uns helfen? Kontaktieren Sie uns einfach unter „Übersetzung Englisch-Deutsch ».

A très vite…

Arrangement of Skin

With childhood ambitions to act; Polly Morgan, born and bought up in the Cotswolds; completed school and studiously decided to attend Queen Mary’s, University of London instead. Pedestrianly graduating in 2002 with an English Literature degree. It was her extra curricula activities, including working at the Shoreditch Electrical Stores, London; that proved significant for her foray into the art world. A popular bar for artists and graduates alike, it was where she met her then boyfriend, British Sculptor Paul Fryer and started to attend East End openings. Influenced by Fryer, and the bar’s clientele quite possibly, Morgan took up ink drawing and clay sculpure, whilst attempting to decorate their apartment above the bar. Experimenting with mediums, she finally took up a rather audacious interest in taxidermy; as a consequence of attempting to buy ornamental creatures, and being frustrated by how alive the encased animals looked; wanting them to play dead. It was suggested to her she learn the technique herself, and she subsequently contacted the most qualified taxidermist in the country, George Jamieson, of Cramond, Edinburgh. With whom she learned, within less than a few hours, the initial practice of stuffing a dead animal with a frozen pigeon.

An almost revelatory experience for the literature graduate, Morgan immediately took to taxidermy as a preoccupation for her engrained love of nature and its regenerative energies. Hastily (as she describes it), producing four works in those first few months, that for their daring caught the eye of the celebrated British graffiti artist Banksy. Morgan had by then determined her own artistic enterprise; that would draw this self-taught artist to the attention of collectors Anita Zabludowicz, and David Roberts. And gallerists Jay Jopling and Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst among them. Banksy invited her to exhibit at his temporary gallery, Santa’s Ghetto, and from there she exhibited at White Cube, London (2008), the Haunch of Venison, Burlington Gardens, London (2009), Gimpel Fils, London (2010), Kunstmuseum Thurgau, Switzerland (2010), and the ACC Galerie, Weimar, Germany (2013), among others. With a solo show about to open in New York, at Other Criteria, 11 September – 22 October 2014.

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

© Polly Morgan

RP: Can you explain a little of your background?

PM: I read English Literature at college, not that I was especially driven by that; but although I did for a while think I would write, and I did do a little bit of freelance journalism. It just didn’t occur to me that I could do art, for some reason. I used to make things constantly, and I was really into the subject at school. (At the time) I didn’t know any artists, I didn’t know anyone at art college. It was just never suggested to me, and English seemed like the inevitable thing to do. So in a way that really helped me to start with (making work), because I was naïve enough not to question every little thing that I did. And also I didn’t have these high hopes or ambitions to be an artist. I just started making stuff. And I was living in East London, and had friends who were on the periphery of the art world, or some of them were quite successful artists. And it got seen by the right people, and picked up quite quickly. And that all snowballed the interest in it, and I felt like I have been catch up for years really. Trying to make works that justified the attention I was getting, and never really feeling I was.

RP: Art writers and critics can be a little over jealous on occasion, labelling and categorising everything pretty quickly. Leaving the artist unassailably attached to one camp or another. Is that what happened to you then?

PM: I think that’s probably what happened. And I think it was partly that I put some work in a show that he (Banksy), used to put on at Christmas. I would say yes to a show, if someone would offer me a show, and I didn’t think about the repercussions, or any idea. And I really didn’t think it would last longer than two or three years, so I did whatever happened. And it was only in hindsight that I realised that that set me off in a direction that I possibly didn’t want to go in. Anyway for the first time, these works that I am making are devoid of narrative, and they are much more about the animal as a sculptural form; as a kind of… I have chosen snakes because they are long thin tubes really, and they are malleable and you can do so much with them. And I am trying to get away from the symbolism behind snakes, which is irrelevant to the works I am making. And they are kind of modernist in influence. With these loops and curves sitting on these blocks of marble or granite, and hard wood.

RP: So this appears to be a major departure for you, from your original idea of animals encased and almost macabre in appearance?

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

© Polly Morgan

PM: it’s a sort of bridge I think, because it’s still taxidermy. But it feels like it is taking me away from the associations of the gothic, which I always had attached to my work. Which I can understand, but at the same time I think a lot if it came from my working with material that happened to be a dead animal. But someone who draws in charcoal, their material is brunt wood, but you don’t think of it in the same way. For me it really was a material I was using as opposed to… death had to happen in order for me to use the skin, but it wasn’t about death. (Referring to her new works for her forth-coming New York show), so they are not meant to look natural in any way, they are just coiled up in positions I found attractive really. There are about thirteen of them downstairs, (in my studio), none of them actually fixed on yet. And nine of them are going out to New York.

RP: So there is a sense that these works are moving more towards abstraction of the ‘form in space’. Is that an important departure for you?

PM: It is yes; and they are works that I just like more, and they are in keeping with my aesthetic. I suddenly realised that there was this quite big chasm between the work that I was making, and the work that I like. And I would have conversations with friends about it, and they would say it’s not really relevant whether you like your own work. You make what you make and that’s what you do. You continue along that path. And I have heard that from quite a few people. And I was going along with it a little bit, but at the same time I was convinced it can’t be right to work all day, and sleep at night and think that you are producing ‘bad’ work that is pointless, and that you are embarrassed standing next to it at your own private view. Which didn’t feel right. So I think for me, certainly with these snakes, I have found a way to make something I would like to own. And get away from people telling stories about my work that weren’t in my head when I made it.

I don’t like to be didactic about the work, and suggest that this is what it means, and this is what you will take away from it. I do like the idea that it exists outside of you once you have made it, and it has its own life, because everyone looks at it very differently. I did feel that there was a real disconnect between what I saw myself and what I was making; and how other people were receiving it.

RP: How do you feel about terms like ‘decorative’ or ‘attractive’ in association with your early works?
And are you consciously attempting to move away from that now?

PM: Yes quite ambivalent I suppose (about such descriptions); that is something that has always worried me about my work. To start with it was very ornamental. And actually I think it was fine, and it was okay to be doing that, but suddenly I found myself as an artist, showing in art galleries, and it was not really what I intended. And that’s when I become incredibly critical of my own work.

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

© Polly Morgan

If I had seen my own work in a gift shop, or even in someone’s house, I would have thought ‘that is really pretty’. But soon as it was in a gallery, I would look at it as a viewer in a gallery, and think that’s not really good enough. And I think my problem is that I always try to pre-empt criticism before it happens.

RP: I interviewed (British Sculptor) Richard Wilson some months ago now, and he and I were talking about another artist who has done just that. Of negotiating their way out of control. And someone who is now clearly producing far too many works for a gallerist demanding that of them. There is a danger of submitting to that kind of prescribed pressure, whereby that is the ‘deal’, and that is what you go with.

PM: I realise I just want to enjoy my job, that’s the thing. And when it is on my terms and I can take it at my pace, I really love what I am doing. But as soon as I am working with someone who wants to work at a slightly different pace to me, I can really feel myself resisting it with every fibre of my being. And I really don’t enjoy it, and the work is no longer pleasurable, and I don’t sleep aswell. And my ideas aren’t as good. And I have learned now.

Rajesh Punj, September 2014

Form in space

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

© Polly Morgan

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

Lost Blessing Taxidermy Corn snake, Wild West green Marble, Olive wood

© Polly Morgan 2014

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

Sometimes on a Sunday Taxidermy Taxidermy Green Tree Python, Marble

© Polly Morgan 2014

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

Some Sad Story Taxidermy Beauty Rat snak, African Blackwood, Wild West green marble

© Polly Morgan 2014

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

Sick of Smiling Taxidermy Taxidermy King Rat snake, Travertine and Slate

© Polly Morgan 2014

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

Standing in Circles Taxidermy Corn snak, Slate, Brazilian Tulipwood

© Polly Morgan 2014

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

Depression in a Surface Taxidermy Albino Corn snake, Marble, Slate

© Polly Morgan 2014

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

Semblance of Sanity Taxidermy Royal Python, African Blackwood, Palmwood

© Polly Morgan 2014

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

Sometimes Something Happens Taxidermy Emerald Tree Boa, Zebrano Wood, Perspex, Lemonwood

© Polly Morgan 2014

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

Someone Sinned Taxidermy Java Carpet Python, Brazilian Tulipwood, African Blackwood, Crema Marfil Marble

© Polly Morgan 2014

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

Say Less Please Taxidermy Moellendorff’s Rat snake, African Blackwood, various Marbles

© Polly Morgan 2014

Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

Sunrise over Sorrow Taxidermy Corn Snake, Crema Marfil Marble, Brazilian Tulipwood

© Polly Morgan 2014


Polly Morgan Arrangement of Skin Interview

© Regard au Pluriel 2014 tous droits réservés

Richard Wilson, Acting Alone, Interview

Richard Wilson – Acting Alone – Interview

En exclusivité pour  Regard au Pluriel


Richard Wilson

Interview // Rajesh Punj // May 2014



Richard Wilson, Acting Alone, InterviewRichard Wilson with Slipstream models © LHR Airports Limited




Acting Alone



Slipstream is one of Richard Wilson’s most innovative projects to date. Originally based on the induced motion of a car rolling over, translated into the aeronautical endeavour of a small propeller plane turning through the air at high altitude; Wilson’s elevated aluminium clad sculpture, twists through the central space of the redesigned new terminal building like an elongated spacecraft settling for earth. And as the motive for our meeting, this titanic sculpture serves to facilitate what is a remarkably candid conversation about his original appetite for the grandiose scale of American sculpture, and of its influence upon his more substantial interventionist works. His indicative need for a ‘wow’ factor when drawing an audience in, and of his wish to redress the notion that his works are in any way acts of ‘vandalism’. Throughout Wilson advocates for more rudimentary principles, referring to ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’, ideals that he argues are slipping away from a lot of leading artist’s practices now, in favour of more commercial interests. All of which makes Wilson a sculptor in the purist sense.


Richard Wilson, Acting Alone, InterviewEarly drawing for slipstream by Richard Wilson




Rajesh Punj: Possibly we should begin by your explaining and exploring the significance of your new work, ‘Slipstream’, and of how important the scale of this work is?


Richard Wilson: It’s an interesting question relating to scale, because first of all the obvious question people will say is it’s ginormous, why? And you have got to understand I have spent a good part of my professional career as a sculptor; dabbling with architecture, playing with architecture, undoing it, and therefore I’ve had to take on that scale. Therefore if you have an idea about spinning a facade, you don’t do it as a six foot piece. A facade is looking at the extremities and thinking what will the budget allow for? So obviously architecture is a dedicator for scale, and the other thing is the canvas that I was given, which is the empty void of the covered court area. Which is supported in the middle by eleven columns, and in relation to the brief that I was given, was that the sculpture could only be supported off of the columns. So I have only used four of them, and I have probably used just over a third of the supports for the ceiling.

So in that respect it’s not a very big sculpture; but it is big when you see it. And it’s to do with human scale, non-human scale, and architectural scale. So I’ve worked with the scale of the room, and I’ve worked with the scale of the interior of the architecture. It’s not as big as the building; it’s only in one third of the building. You have got the car-park arrivals area from London, and then you have the covered court area, and you have the terminal. So I have got the middle piece; and I’ve taken four of the eleven columns of the middle piece, therefore it’s not a sprawling work that occupies three parts of the architecture, it only occupies one part of it. So in that respect I think it is right for where it is, and the size is right for where it is located.

And in terms of the visual people like to see exciting things, dramatic things, and things that are going to arouse them, and dazzle them in some way, and startle their imaginations, and I think I work on that level. It’s a little rude in the sculpture world, but I use it, and I suppose I use it because I am working a lot of the time in an environment where my audience isn’t well versed in an art grammar. Here we are at an airport where 20 million people a year come through this terminal, then they are not all going be au fait with the visual arts; they (the audience), have not had the training I have had, so I have to use something that gets that wow factor going.


RP: You appear to consider the external factors of a work, (the volume of space you begin with, and your wish for the work not to overwhelm that setting in any way), as much as the work itself; am I correct in thinking that?

RW: I think that’s true, and I think that one learns to be very sensitive, and that comes through various reasons. And it is something I have had to really think about, and work with over the years, because I spoke about the idea that you can make constructions and build, which is what this is. Or as a lot of my work in the pass has done, which is to unravel and undo, and look inside of architecture. When you do that, you tend you get critics talking about the artist as being a vandal, that I am attacking architecture, and disagreeing with the architect; and it’s not that at all. Because they are sensitively choreographed pieces; so when you do turn the facade of a building, or plant a sculpture in the floor of a gallery, or take a window and bring it into the space to adjust the architecture, it’s all incredibly thought out and sensitively worked. I wouldn’t say hundreds, but there are lots and lots of drawings, sketches and models made, to get it to sit properly and right in the space. It’s not an attack, it’s not an act of vandalism. I’m not the mad axe man coming in to attack architecture, as has been written about me. So I have had to think about it.


RP: That comes across as a strange accusation, for someone so deliberate in everything that they do. Are you?


RW: I can understand it, because what it is, is that often people don’t know the hidden agenda, and I am referring again to these pieces I have just mentioned, (Over Easy 1998, The Arc, Stockton-Upon-Tees; Turning the Place Over 2008, Liverpool; Water Table 1994, Matt’s Gallery, London), when you know you have been given permission to undo a window, and you have a very good understanding of how that window operates, as in She Came in through the Bathroom Window 1989; I could just unbolt it, bring it back in, and put it back up afterwards. I knew with Turning the Place Over 2008, I could do a pastry cut in the building, mount that onto a spindle and spin it, because the building was going to be pulled down afterwards; so those were the hidden agendas, given that information. The same with the Serpentine Gallery, Jamming Gears exhibition, in 1996; they, (the gallery), were going to excavate their basement out. And they had been given lottery money to put an education room down there. Therefore I could dig the floor, because when I’d gone it was all coming up anyway. So there was an understanding that I would use the parameters of what was allowed and doable; and in that respect I probably challenge the architecture in that way. Where as in the museum environment, it is one where the architecture is sacrosanct, you can’t put a nail in the wall, you can’t undo that floorboard; you know it is difficult enough taking a light bulb out, there are so many health and safety restrictions. So I research all of those things, and just basically determine what the available parameters are, and then work out what I can do within the parameters as I understand them. It is not vandalism, it’s not that I go in and don’t ask, or seek permission, and just assume I can do these things.


RP: How integral is drawing when planning a work?


RW: Drawings are vital for me, because number one I am working with teams, and I have got to be able to express my idea sensibly, and in a coherent way, so that there is no misunderstanding. Sometimes I am invited to make drawings and models to assist in the securing of funding, so you would be asked to make a maquette in order to convince someone who is not that well versed in the art grammar, that they can say oh I get it, I like it, let’s put money forward into that, so it will be a local authority perhaps.

So these things are done to the best of my ability, in order to convey the best possible way the concept as it is at that moment in time. The other thing the drawings are done for is, in the same way people go to the gym to work-out, I use drawing as a mental limbering up. I have got to get very familiar with my work, because once I am familiar with it, it is handed over. Made in Hull, (referring to the slipstream sculpture), and assembled here. It’s not done in the studio where you get time to look and duel upon it and change things, you have got to get it right, like the architect’s got to get it right. And you can’t be seen to be wasting money; you can’t say actually I don’t like the middle, can we get rid of that and do it again, because you look unprofessional, and you are throwing money away at that point.

RP: There must be a point with certain projects then when you are having to be much less attached to a work, as with Slipstream. Where you are less able to come back to something, and have the opportunity to amend it whilst it is under construction. How do you operate under those circumstances?


RW: With Slipstream, and any of the other major works where the sculpture is rooted in a building outside a big gallery idea, it requires of me to work like an architect; that is you work, and work, and work on the idea, to get it fine-tuned to what you consider is correct, and then you hand it over to the engineers, and onto the manufacturers; and at that point you don’t lose control on it, but you obviously can’t chop and change it after that. And when a project like this takes three years, you most intensive period is probably the first six months, at the very beginning. After that you are following it, signing bits off, saying I don’t like the way those bits work, or can we just clean that there, or I don’t like that bit there, but essentially you can’t challenge your own aesthetic. You can’t say I don’t like the way I have made that work, can I get rid of all of that.


RP: There is something almost contradictory about your lexicon for public sculpture; when you talk of inevitable ‘compromises’, and of your wish for ‘being sympathetic’ to a space; in relation to the artist as ‘actionist’. Are the two mutually exclusive?


RW: It comes with age, you start to realise that sometimes you can be a bit belligerent, and you think the idea is right; and you have tried and tested it on your models and drawings, and then someone will come along and say it can’t be that high, it’s got to drop down a bit so you can see the exist sign, and you drop it, and you think actually I am glad that surfaced because it could have been a bold, brisk attempt at saying, here I am, flying up and away, when in fact there is a subtly aswell, when you reduce and do those things. Sometimes fortuitously it’s a blessing in disguise, and you rarely say I am glad that went that way, because I had got it wrong; you keep quiet about it, and you pretend it was always intended. But obviously artists have to work in that way all the time. I think everyone has to give and take in that situation. The building has to give a bit, but the sculpture has to give a bit back aswell.

RP: You have referred to the significance of scale in your work; how important was American sculpture to you, as an influence?

RW: I really used the library, and I became very involved in the American artists at art college. Very involved in Land Art, and I become very involved with scale. (Richard) Serra, Mark di Suvero, and some of the other big land artists, Walter de Maria, Michael Heizer among them. And I came to Gordon Matta Clark very late, after college. But that kind of bravado, the idea that scale and the very American idea that rather than use the path you know, get off the path and make your own trail. That idea that you have something to say, say it; and don’t follow the conservative trend, break away and be your own person; be your own ideas. And I always thought there was something wrong, that if anyone was making work like you that that was wrong; and for me it was about being unique.


Rajesh Punj, May 2014








« This work is a metaphor for travel, » says Wilson of the design. « It is a journey from A to B, where sensations of velocity, acceleration and de-acceleration follow us at every undulation. »




Richard Wilson, Acting alone, Interview
Heathrow Airport in 2011 unveiled plans for an ambitious and stunning sculpture commissioned from sculptor Richard Wilson R.A for the new £2.2bn Terminal 2.
Titled ‘Slipstream’, the 80 metre long sculpture is installed outside the terminal in the covered court area. All arriving and departing passengers will pass through the court and be able to view what will become a landmark sculpture for London.
Slipstream is inspired by the exhilarating potential of flight, coupled with the physical aesthetics of aircraft. Constructed in aluminium, the piece aimed to solidify the twisting velocity of a stunt plane manoeuvring through the volume of the new terminal.



Richard Wilson, Acting alone, Interview

Richard Wilson, Acting alone, Interview

Richard Wilson, Acting alone, InterviewRichard Wilson // Slipstream // Photographer David Levene

Richard Wilson, Acting alone, InterviewRichard Wilson // Slipstream // Photographer David Levene

Drawings by Richard Wilson


Richard Wilson, Acting Alone, InterviewSlice of Reality / 2000 / © Richard Wilson /Tate London

Richard Wilson, Acting Alone, InterviewOver Easy / 1998 / © Richard Wilson / Tate London


Watertable 1994 by Richard Wilson born 1953Watertable / 1994  /  © Richard Wilson / Tate London

Richard Wilson, Acting alone, InterviewSlice of Reality / 2000/  © Richard Wilson/ Tate London


Richard Wilson // website


Richard Wilson, Acting Alonge, Interview