Robyn Denny

Abbey Wood No. I


Not on display

Robyn Denny 1930–2014
Paper and gouache on paper
Support: 264 × 283 mm
Presented by the artist 1973

Catalogue entry

Robyn Denny b.1930

T01834 Abbey Wood No.1 1958–59

Inscribed ‘Denny 59’b.r.
Paper and gouache on paper, 10 5/16 x 11¿ (26.2 x 28.2).
Presented by the artist 1973.
Exh: Tate Gallery, March–April 1973 (not numbered).

T01834 is one of about six studies for a mosaic mural at Abbey Wood Nursery School, London SE2, which was commissioned from Denny by the London County Council in 1958. This was his first mural. He was already interested in the convention and techniques of traditional mosaic murals, but although he had included tesserae in some of his paintings, he had not worked on a mosaic as such.

In preparing the design of the mural Denny considered several styles simultaneously: in T01834 and several other studies he made a collage of pieces of painted paper, scraps of newspaper and magazine headlines. He painted over the collage and in T01834 he thickly stencilled the number 3 three times. These studies had the appearance of colours layered upon each other with words, letters and numbers partly visible beneath. In the other studies letters were collaged together so that they were difficult to read or ambiguous.

By means of the studies Denny reached a design made up of incomplete numbers and letters combined with the ‘negative space’ between them, the shape and colour of which gained equal prominence in the composition. Denny established all the elements of the design both as possible symbols and as an arrangement of aesthetically connected forms.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.

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