Michael Dillon

Op Structure


Not on display

Michael Dillon born 1941
Object: 910 × 360 × 136 mm
Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983

Technique and condition

Op Structure is a constructed PMMA (polymethylmethacrylate) artwork in the shape of a tall rectangular box with six internal compartments. The work is two compartments wide by three tall. External dimensions are 915 x 360 x 135 mm.

The sculpture is comprised of several types of PMMA. The outer structural box and internal dividers are constructed from white, glossy 3 mm opaque PMMA sheet. The front face of the box is vertically fluted (or scalloped) transparent 3 mm PMMA, with the fluted pattern repeating every 22 mm. Each internal compartment of the work contains various coloured pieces, assumed to be PMMA, which are inaccessible due to the construction of the work. The lowest PR compartment contains two pieces of curved plastic, assumed to have been made by heating and bending before being adhered into the compartment. The colours contained within the internal compartments include dark blue, and ‘neon colours’, namely orange, yellow, pink and green. The back is made of a 3 mm transparent sheet of PMMA with a textured ‘waffle’ pattern with smooth, glossy transparent orange PMMA on top of approximately two-thirds of the waffle pattern PMMA. Externally accessible plastic components were analysed using FTIR spectroscopy to confirm the polymer.

The PMMA appears to have been measured and marked with a writing utensil (some lines are still present on the work) by the artist before being machine cut. Regular, recurring saw marks can be seen on many edges. The PMMA was adhered together with PMMA cement (also confirmed by FTIR spectroscopy). There are three areas of white PMMA that have been re-adhered with PMMA cement, believed to have been broken during manufacture and repaired by the artist. Given their positions, these would have been repaired before the front fluted sheet was adhered.

There are many scratch marks along the glue joins. These indicate that excess cement was removed with emery paper, most probably during manufacture. There are also some areas where the cement looks as though it has been wiped whilst still wet. There are several small circular abrasion marks on the clear fluted face, potentially where someone has tried to abrade out scratches. It is unknown if these were created by the artist.

Photographic evidence of similar works by the same artist indicate that Op Structure should be displayed on a plinth with a light source obliquely lighting the back of the work. The artist cannot currently be traced to confirm this display method.

Gates Sofer
November 2016

Research on this work was undertaken as part of the NANORESTART project.

Catalogue entry

T03717 Op Structure 1967

Construction of coloured, opalescent and Transparent perspex 36 × 14 1/2 × 5 1/2 (910 × 360 × 136)
Not inscribed
Transferred from the Victoria and Albert Museum 1983
Prov: Purchased by the Department of Circulation, Victoria and Albert Museum, from the artist 1967 (Circ. 983–1967)

The two op art constructions (this and T03718) with the same title by Michael Dillon were made while he was a student at the Royal College of Art.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986


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