Catalogue entry

Bryan Kneale b. 1930

T00941 Marina 1967

Not inscribed.
Aluminium, 38¾ x 40½ x 28 (98.5 x 103 x 71).
Purchased from the artist through the Redfern Gallery (Knapping Fund) 1967.
Exh: Redfern Gallery, October 1967 (1, repr. in colour and in black and white).
Lit: Bryan Robertson, ‘Bryan Kneale’s new work’, in Studio International, CLXXIV, October 1967, pp. 150–153, repr. p. 152.

Four parallel, flat sections of aluminium rise vertically from the ground. In each the outer perimeter is octagonal; within, a circular void has been cut which occupies almost the whole area enclosed by the octagon. Two rods penetrating all four sections hold them in an arrangement that cannot be changed. The sections, which are unevenly spaced, are very slightly irregular, with the result that the sculpture can rest flat on only one of its eight sides, the only base intended by the artist. A third rod, parallel with the ground, connects the two outer rods, passing between the two inner sections. At its central point this rod penetrates a sphere, itself the centre of a flat disc. The rod also passes through flat shapes roughly resembling bones or bow-ties, which are set further along the rod, one on each side of the sphere.

Alone in the sculpture, these two shapes can be rotated, and set at any angle desired. The artist told the compiler (in conversation 19 July 1968) that they were left free deliberately, because ‘my work is now semi- static, semi-mobile, so touching is relevant’. Also crucial is ‘the idea of space within’ the rings, giving a space which is sectioned and sliced (‘vertical space’) within which contrasting directions of movement and structuring of space (implied by the axes of the central rod and the flat shapes it penetrates) occur. Also central is the concept of ‘an infinitely extendable situation’, implicit in the tunnel-like interior of the work and the illustion of repeated reflections.

The artist stated that whereas, as in ‘Knuckle’ 1964 (T00695), his work used to be welded, with the result that each sculpture seemed an indivisible whole, the parts are now screwed or slotted together, or otherwise mechanically jointed. He considers this sort of jointing, seen in ‘Marina’, and implying both movement and the possibility of breaking the work down into its component parts, to be increasingly important in his work.

‘Marina’ is also a key work in his development of kinds of sculpture in which the function of the ground is not allowed to dominate. For example he now commences the construction of many sculptures at a point some feet above the ground, rather than building from the ground upwards, sometimes suspending heavy weights at some height. This is a development of the intention expressed in ‘Marina’ that a prominent factor in each work shall be the experience of the interaction of pressures, some actual and some only apparent.

Any literary or emotional associations to which the work is open are the by-product rather than the object of Kneale’s working process. In work such as ‘Marina’ he intends ‘to free the sculpture from unnecessary emotion’. Thus he feels the idea of protection that can be gained from ‘Marina’ more in the sense of ‘the surprise of opening a watch’ with its practical contrast between protective case and inner mechanism, than in the sense of the emotion of fear or pain.

Like all Kneale’s current work, ‘Marina’ is a unique piece.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1967–1968, London 1968.