Exhibition catalogue text

Catalogue entry from John Wells: The Fragile Cell

3 Relief Construction No.1 1941
Mixed media 32.1 x 42.2 x 4.5
Tate Gallery

This relief was titled and dated at the time of its inclusion in the important exhibition New Movements in Art: Contemporary Work in England (London Museum, March-May 1942). It is one of a series of relief constructions which combine the lessons learnt from Wells's experiments in both three-dimensional construction and collage. The numbering suggests the existence of at least one further piece. A work entitled Relief Construction No.2 was illustrated in World Review (May 1942, p.8), but is unfortunately presumed lost. Again, a number of components are borrowed from his medical practice, for example the pierced cylinder - the central core from a plaster bandage. Wells also employed a small brass turntable, a device used by his father to make microscope slides, to produce concentric circles. He consistently returned to this method throughout his career.

Published in: Matthew Rowe, John Wells: The Fragile Cell, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, St Ives 1998, p.21, reproduced in colour