Catalogue entry

Peter Hide born 1944

T01249 Tripod 1970

Not inscribed.
Mild steel angle, shotblasted and painted, and mild steel plate welded and galvanised, 123½ x 266 x 266 (315 x 676 x 676).
Purchased from the artist (Knapping Fund, Florence Fox Bequest and Elizabeth Pentland Bequest) 1970.
Exh: Peter Hide and Roland Brener, Stockwell Depot, September 1970 (4).
Lit: ‘Roland Brener and Peter Hide—a written discussion’ in Studio Inter- national, CLXXX, 1970, pp. 96–7.

The artist gave the following account of his work (14 July 1971): ‘I conceived the idea in Spring ‘70 and made part of the work then. There was a gap after this while I re-thought the piece but in August I returned to my original idea and completed the work by mid-September. I did, in fact, do a few drawings for the piece but they were of no interest intrinsically (mostly done on odd scraps of paper, walls, etc.)— so I do not have any. Personally, I prefer people just to see the work anyway. I never make maquettes if I can possibly avoid it, as most of my works have to be a particular size and I cannot predict subtle effects of scale, stress and strain from a maquette.’

‘The central galvanised triangular section was constructed by me at the Depot. The angles, of course, are standard steel stock with modifications and attachments done by me. The tensile rods were threaded and shaped by me—the clips and strainers are standard yacht-fittings.’

‘The piece “Tripod” relates closely to the various “Towers”, “Pyramids” and “Tanks” I have made. It is a summation of the ideas in these pieces and therefore belongs to the period Autumn 1968–70. However, merely to ascribe the piece to this period as if it were a homogenous logical flow of events is rather misleading. There are two important digressions in this period, very different from each other in character. The first was the six month summer period of 1969. During this time I made a piece for an Arts Council commission and most of the work for Stockwell Depot II 1969. It seems to me now that this short period was the last flourish of Anthony Caro’s influence, which had been so important in my first two years at St Martin’s [he was at St Martin’s between 1964–67], but which I had mistakenly thought I had left behind.’ The artist regretted that these works dominated one important piece at the Stockwell Show: ‘This was the “Girder Piece” which I had made in the previous winter 1968, and which, with hindsight, I now realise to contain many of the seeds of subsequent works.’

‘ “Girder Piece” and the first “Pyramid”, Autumn ‘68 (previously unshown) were exhibited in two shows arranged in Scandinavia in the winter 1969. These Scandinavian shows bring me onto my second digression. This was only a digression in the sense that it was a backlash against Stockwell II 1969 rather than a systematic development of previous concerns. It took the form of one extremely large sculpture; “Big Ring”, which nobody, including me, has ever seen. The “Big Ring” basically was a self-supporting, circular enclosure of diameter 128 ft. and height 10 ft. 5 in. It was structural, linear, used colour in space, in fact had all my old ingredients with a vengeance. I made it after the Stockwell Depot II in the Autumn ‘69.’ Hide intended to show ‘Big Ring’ in the Royal Park, Oslo, but it fell over after he had set up only a third of the circuit. It was subsequently delivered back to the Stockwell Depot where he has repainted and modified it. ‘Needless to say it occupies a very strange place in my history as I made it two years ago and have only the vaguest idea what it looks like. This may seem an arbitrary point to terminate but I have, in fact, covered the period to which “Tripod” belongs. This was a very confused time for me and so I had to untangle it.’

In a written discussion with Roland Brenner published in 1970 (op. cit.), Hide wrote: ‘One characteristic I feel our works share is dynamism. Many of them rely on being held together by weights, wire, or something, they have the potentiality of movement, even disintegration. Unlike you, though, I feel my approach to sculpture is essentially corporeal. I allow myself to be conditioned by the demands of the physical world, especially gravity and the nature of material.’

‘My work is always made up of separate elements, each of which has a structural function, consequently an element’s presence is dictated by mechanical necessity rather than visual preference. Factors of surface finish and, to some extent, the relative size and shape of each element, are determined according to visual criteria. Thus mechanical function determines the general nature of a sculpture while visual criteria determine the specific. The size of a sculpture depends on two factors, firstly that a piece must relate to human scale, and secondly, the fact that from a mechanical view point every structure has a particular idea size.’

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.