Richard Deacon (born 1949) is widely regarded as one of the principal British sculptors, best known for his innovative use of open form and his interest in materials and their manipulation. For the first time, Tate St Ives brings works by this significant British artist to Cornwall for the summer season. In the Gallery’s unique spaces, Deacon presents a mixed display of previously unseen works in wood, ceramic and stainless steel.
For more than two decades, Deacon has created unique sculptures in a wide range of materials such as laminated wood, polycarbonate, leather, cloth and ceramic. Working on both a domestic and monumental scale, his structures combine organic and biomorphic forms with elements of engineering. The sculptures are defined by the space within and around them, as much as the solidity of their shape. Never overwhelming the viewer, they interact dynamically with the architecture of Tate St Ives.
Deacon’s installation in three galleries and the courtyard establishes a vitality and plays with the visitor’s usual interaction with sculpture. Large hand-built ceramic works such as Throw 2004 and the series Gap 1-8 2004 are assembled from thrown elements and finished with a very rich glaze which overrides their part by part making. Deacon’s dissatisfaction with the materials commonly associated with outdoor works drove him to explore the use of clay on a large-scale, overcoming technical difficulties to produce a body of work such as Another Kind Of Blue 2005 or Flower 2004 that illustrates his fascination with the relationship between the physical and the material.
Deacon’s preoccupation with methods of construction and materials expresses the continuous development of his ideas on sculpture, the interaction of surface, skin and structure, mass and volume, space and its relations. Deacon describes himself as a fabricator, for he neither carves nor models, but constructs using manufacturing or building techniques. Individual 2004 and Couple 2004 along with a new wooden work made especially for this exhibition are examples of the spectacular development of his practice in working with steamed and twisted wood.
Born in Bangor, North Wales in 1949, Richard Deacon lives and works in London. He was awarded the prestigious Turner Prize, Tate Gallery, London in 1987, and currently teaches at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
The exhibition is curated by the artist and Susan Daniel-McElroy, Director of Tate St Ives, and an illustrated 48-page publication accompanies the exhibition with essays by Clarrie Wallis, Curator of Contemporary British Art, Tate Britain and leading ceramist and author Edmund de Waal.
Supported by The Henry Moore Foundation, Tate Members and Tate St Ives Members