Tony Cragg Raleigh 1986

Artwork details

Artist
Tony Cragg born 1949
Title
Raleigh
Date 1986
Medium Metal and stone
Dimensions Object: 1938 x 3264 x 3417 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased 1987
Reference
T04903
Not on display

Catalogue entry

T04903 Raleigh 1986

Cast iron and granite 1938 × 3264 × 3417 (76 1/4 × 128 1/2 × 134 5/8)
Not inscribed
Purchased from the Lisson Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1987
Exh: Tony Cragg, Arts Council of Great Britain, Hayward Gallery, London, March–June 1987 (28, repr.)
Lit: Richard Francis, ‘Tony Cragg: A Sculpture’, Events Summer 1986 - Steven Campbell: A Billboard Painting; Tony Cragg: A Sculpture; Bruce Mclean and David Ward: A New Performance, Tate Gallery Liverpool 1986, pp.14–20, repr. p.21; ‘Tony Cragg Interviewed by Lynne Cooke’ in Tony Cragg, exh. cat., Arts Council of Great Britain, Hayward Gallery 1987, p.24, repr. pp.62–3 (col.); Waldemar Januszczak, ‘Gatherer Who Prowls the Ruins’, Guardian, 7 March 1987, p.12; John McEwan, ‘Tony Cragg at the Hayward’, Art in America, July 1987, pp.36–6; Sculpture on Merseyside, Tate Gallery Liverpool 1988, p.43, repr. p.42 (col.); Tate Gallery Report 1986–8, 1988, repr. p.86 (col.); Also repr: Art and Design, Feb. 1987, p.72; Art and Design, Dec. 1987, p.53, front cover (col.); Tony Cragg, exh. cat., British Council, Venice Biennale 1988, p.31; Tony Cragg, exh. cat., Tate Gallery 1989, p.29

‘Raleigh’ is made from six separate elements, two cast-iron bollards, two granite bollards and two horn-shaped forms that the artist had specially cast in iron. They are arranged on the ground with the four bollards providing a base or platform for the two horn-shaped forms. The title of the piece appears to relate to the sixteenth-century navigator Sir Walter Raleigh.

T04903 was made in Liverpool in August 1986 as part of a series of summer events organised by the Tate Gallery in collaboration with the Merseyside Development Corporation and the Walker Art Gallery, to draw public attention to the development of the Tate Gallery Liverpool two years prior to its opening. In addition to the sculpture project, of which T04903 was the result, the Scottish painter Steven Campbell made a painting which was displayed on a commercial advertising hoarding. There was also a series of performances based on a collaboration between Bruce Mclean and David Ward and local artists and musicians.

Photographs of the process of manufacture and installation of ‘Raleigh’ are reproduced in the 1986 Tate Gallery Liverpool catalogue, pp.16–21. The six elements in the work were assembled on site and arranged by a crane, in accordance with the artist's instructions. The final arrangement had not been predetermined and was established in an ad hoc way according to the way in which the individual pieces interlocked in situ. The work was assembled on an area of grass adjacent to the Piermaster's house, close to the Tate Gallery Liverpool on the Albert Dock, overlooking the River Mersey. Although it is now sited permanently there, it was not originally intended to be site-specific. After being displayed at Liverpool, it was moved and reassembled at the Hayward Gallery, London in March 1987 on the occasion of Cragg's Arts Council exhibition. Following its acquisition by the Tate Gallery, ‘Raleigh’ was returned to its original site in Liverpool in June 1987.

‘Raleigh’ was made from both found and specially fabricated objects. It was Cragg's customary practice to assemble works from normally discarded objects and he requested access to the Merseyside Development Corporation's ‘artefact store’ where traditional dockside objects, reclaimed from the vicinity, await potential redeployment in the burgeoning waterside development. He selected two massive granite and two large cast-iron bollards which in the final work function as a base. The two horn-shaped forms were cast at the Bootle iron foundry of Bruce and Hyslop. According to Colin Appleton, Director of Bruce and Hyslop (conversation with the compiler, 1 February 1994), Cragg visited the foundry and drew an outline of the two horn-shaped forms in chalk on the floor of the pattern shop. Workers at the foundry then made brown paper patterns from these drawings from which they constructed skeleton patterns in plywood. These plywood patterns have been preserved by Bruce and Hyslop. The making of the patterns and the casting of the iron pieces were complex procedures which Cragg supervised, although he had little technical expertise in such matters at the time. The bell and stem parts of the two horns had to be made separately and were subsequently welded together. The horn with the large bell has a curved stem, while that with the smaller bell has a long, straight stem. Very minor work was undertaken to correct defects in the cast surface of the two horn-shaped forms but no chemical patina was applied. The cast-iron surface rusted quickly when exposed to the outside elements. Its appearance, however, has remained stable as the graphite content of iron prevents it from coroding. It is this quality that makes cast iron such a durable building material and particularly suitable for exposed coastal regions. The deep rust colour of the two horns is very similar to the rusted surface of the iron bollards, providing a dramatic contrast to the white and grey of the granite. The granite has been stained orange where water has dripped from the iron pieces. This was the first occasion on which Cragg used cast iron in his sculpture and he was inspired to do so by the widespread use of the material in the dockside area and its historical importance in the Industrial Revolution. According to Richard Francis (Tate Gallery Liverpool exh. cat., 1986, p.14), Cragg was struck by the imposing scale of the buildings in Liverpool and by the ‘archetypal forms and materials’ of the Dock. The artist was born on Merseyside and spent part of his childhood there, although he has lived in Wuppertal, West Germany since the late 1970s and considers himself, primarily, a European. According to Richard Francis, then Curator of Tate Gallery Liverpool, Cragg ‘decided that he needed to respond to Liverpool - and his memory of it - with materials that have played a part in the construction of the place and signal also its role in the Industrial Revolution’ (ibid.). Francis goes on to clarify the artist's reasons for developing the horn or trumpet motif:

He was keen to make sculptural forms out of something which is normally regarded as utilitarian and to make a form which implies a gesture or a greeting to those who have left Liverpool or may be coming to the city. He chose the horn shapes since they imply a fanfare or a farewell and since horns (as in foghorns) are also used to send messages across water. Cragg considers that the work expresses an optimism about both the past and the future and about his perception of a renewal in Liverpool.

According to the artist, his horn-shaped forms were invented and are not based on actual foghorns or trumpets. The horn motif was first employed by Cragg in ‘Horn’, 1981 (repr. Tony Cragg: 1975–1990, exh. cat., Newport Harbor Museum, California 1990, p.68), in which found man-made objects in both natural and synthetic materials are distributed on the ground in the shape of a horn. After completing ‘Raleigh’, Cragg employed a similar horn form on a very much smaller scale in ‘Glass Horns’, 1986 (repr. British Council exh. cat., 1988, p.31), and forms relating to other musical instruments have featured in a number of works. Cragg had not used bollards before ‘Raleigh’ and it is interesting to note the similarity in form between the found cast iron bollards employed in T04903 and the pestle form employed subsequently in several pieces (see below).

The use of cast iron in T04903 was to prove significant in the future development of Cragg's work. In a letter to the then Director of the Tate Gallery, Sir Alan Bowness, dated 26 October 1986, the artist wrote about the Liverpool project: ‘sometimes out of unexpected circumstances one arrives at key solutions and realisations. Liverpool was one such situation for me.’ Richard Francis (Tate Gallery Liverpool exh. cat., 1986, p.4) reported that Cragg believed that the use of cast iron might be a ‘decisive influence on his future work’. In the same year he went on to use cast iron in ‘Eye Bath’, ‘Mortar and Pestle’ and ‘Float’ (repr. Hayward Gallery exh. cat., 1987, pp.60–1). As in ‘Raleigh’, these sculptures employ forms that are based on simple and functional objects. All three sculptures refer to objects which in normal usage would be hand-held, and thus small, but which in each case have been vastly magnified. Cragg developed the same motifs in glass works such as ‘Eye Bath’, 1986 and Mortar and Pestle’, 1986 (repr. ibid., p.52), which are close in size to the objects they resemble.

‘Raleigh’ is one of only a small number of public sculptures that Cragg has made. The only preceding public project was ‘Salvador Stop’, 1985, a group of houses made from local stone and placed at the water's edge of a shallow fjord in Norway (repr. Hayward Gallery exh. cat., 1987, p.36). Like T04903, this work refers to aspects of man's complex relationship to the sea. Cragg has spoken of the reasons for his reticence in making public works and also of the constraints governing some aspects of the making of ‘Raleigh’:

First of all I have to say that it's incredibly difficult to make a public sculpture because that usually means putting sculpture into a situation where there is a street which is itself a big thing and then there are the buildings, so you have an automatic problem with scale. For example, to give something a real presence in a room is invariably not the main problem. By contrast there's so much visual interference with the neutrality of public sculpture: it's quite difficult to put something in a space where there is so much more visual rivalry. In an urban situation you do get a lot of visual disturbance - and not just visual disturbance but also a lot of noise. It's strange to see sculpture with cars - ‘vroom’ - roaring by. My idea so far has been not to make anything spectacular. There is a sort of sculpture that works very well, like Claes Oldenburg's because it's simple. Since it's really like one mark, it's very readable in that situation. The scale of it gets up to a point where it starts to override the spectator and starts to rival the surroundings. In the very few works that I've done, I've not tried to get into that kind of scale. I attempt to study the possibilities and work into that rather than think, ‘Okay. Now I'm going to make a Tony Cragg on a bigger scale and in a bigger situation’.

(Hayward Gallery exh. cat., 1987, p.24)


Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996

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