Mark Boyle

The Rock and Scree Series (Triptych)


Not on display

Mark Boyle 1934–2005
Natural earth materials, resin and wood on 3 fibreglass panels
Object: 1848 × 1841 × 318 mm
object: 1829 × 1829 × 419 mm
object: 1829 × 1841 × 298 mm
Presented anonymously 1979

Catalogue entry


Not inscribed
Earth etc. on fibreglass, three panels: left, 72 3/4 × 72 3/4 × 12 1/2 (185 × 185 × 32); centre, 72 × 72 × 16 1/2 (183 × 183 × 42.2); right, 72 × 72 3/4 × 11 1/2 (183 × 184 × 30)
Presented by Peter Moores 1979
Exh: Mark Boyle, Felicity Samuel Gallery, October–December 1977 (no catalogue); Venice Biennale, 1978 (British Pavilion 17, repr.); Mark Boyles [sic] und Joan Hills' Reise um der Welt 2, Kunstmuseum, Lucerne, November–December 1978 (18–20, centre panel repr.); Art Anglais d' Aujourd'hui, Collection de la Tate Gallery, Londres, Musée Rath, Geneva, July–September 1980 (1, repr.)
Repr: Tate Gallery 1978–80, p.42

Boyle's works are reproductions of randomly chosen areas of the Earth's surface made by a variety of techniques which Boyle prefers to keep secret.

Mark Boyle works with Joan Hills and their three children, Cameron, Georgia and Sebastian when making pieces. This work was begun in the North of Scotland in 1977. Mark Boyle has supplied the following notes:

'Joan and I decided a lot earlier that we were going to make a cliff series of some kind. We were also intrigued by the way in which a randomly selected six foot square of earth surface seems to change when it is separated from its background and to develop an internal coherence that makes it resemble a composition. On the spur of the moment I can't think of any of our pieces that leaves you with a feeling of incompleteness. We had decided we would make some pieces in which in some way we showed what happened outside the random square to see if this feeling of inner coherence was still maintained when you could see the continuation.

'Suddenly the pressures that were lying very heavily on us seemed to part a little in early March 1977 and we thought we had a few days for an expedition. We phoned our pal at the Met Office and got a 3 day forecast for disastrous rain everywhere south of Fort William but very fine farther north. We felt we could complete the initial stages of the work on the site given 72 hrs. good weather. It was important to know, because working on a cliff in driving rain or when the rock surface was wet and slippery could obviously be dangerous. Once we were committed to a fair weather technique the work could be ruined by rain.

'The next day the five of us, Joan and Georgia and Sebastian and Cameron and I loaded the truck and set off at 6 am, in a downpour. We drove in a world of grey and sulphurous yellow mist and spray, through trucks goring and goading one another as they hurtled north. The rain stopped at Crianlarich, and by nightfall we were at Fort William.

'In the morning the weather was glorious. We drove on and on and eventually found a suitable scarp from which we made a selection which was random, except that it was from the scarp exclusively and that the base of the square was horizontal. Then we thought why don't we work in the idea of showing what happens outside the random square, so we started to make pieces on the adjoining 6 foot squares of rock as well.

‘We camped at the site, drove crowbars into cracks in the rock and laid planks on the crowbars to act as a kind of scaffolding. Then Joan and Georgia and Sebastian and I started to work. We worked from dawn to dusk in blazing heat each day and the work was desperately hard. As we lowered the pieces and moved them from the scarp to the truck the work was only just started, nothing was fixed and everything was so fragile you could hardly breathe. It was such an agonising hard slog I was terrified that Sebastian and Georgia would never forgive me for getting them into such a scene. As night fell we had everything on the truck. There was still months of work to be done on it but we knew now that the only thing that would spoil it would be our own lack of skill. As we started the long drive back to London it began to rain.’

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981


You might like