Arthur Giardelli

The Sea is All About Us


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Not on display

Arthur Giardelli 1911–2009
Paper and wood
Object: 813 × 813 mm
Presented by Mr and Mrs Eric Estorick 1983

Display caption

Giardelli sees his relief constructions as a means of capturing his response to the Pembrokeshire landscape. 'Many are based on drawings made of the sea and take three or four months to make', he explains. These drawings, and the objects collected from the beach, 'revive my experience among the rock pools, waves, mists, lights, storms and distances at the sea's edge'. Giardelli sees himself as sharing aims with a number of other Welsh artists: 'The purpose of art is communication', he says, 'and we can communicate through our work the spirit of Wales as we have experienced it'.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

T03799 The Sea is All About Us 1982

Acrylic, watercolour and paper construction on plywood 32 × 32 (813 × 813)
Inscribed ‘30 April 17 July 1982’ and ‘The Sea is all about us, Arthur Giardelli’ on reverse
Presented by Mr & Mrs Eric Estorick 1983
Prov: Purchased from the artist by Eric Estorick

Giardelli has for a long time worked in two different techniques, making watercolour landscapes and abstract constructions. Unusually, both these materials are included in this construction, since the coils of paper consist of his own discarded watercolours torn into strips. The constructions have often referred indirectly to landscape, and have incorporated coloured slates or natural materials that evoke particular places. They are characteristically designed with repeated shapes, particularly circles and half-circles, and their backboards are covered with pages from old printed books. These features apply to ‘The Sea is All About Us’, which is made of coils of watercolour paper glued onto a board covered with overpainted pages of a book.

The design is made up of circles - ‘The circle is appropriate to a work about the sea. The whole round earth has more sea than anything else and all sea forms are curved’ (letter from the artist, 2 January 1984). The overall pattern is taken from a roundel on the tomb slab of Cosimo dei Medici in the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo in Florence. The complex interlocking shapes are followed in the different depths of cut in the board, in the coils of paper on three different axes and in their various sizes. The artist's letter enclosed his outline sketch of this design in Florence, drawn on 29 March 1982, which appealed to him primarily for its qualities of design rather than its association with Italian art.

The title is taken from T.S. Eliot's The Dry Salvages (1941, line 15), at the beginning of a section describing the action of the sea against the land. Giardelli's exhibition at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre in December 1983 was titled ‘At the Sea's Edge’, and several of the constructions had similar marine titles.

Giardelli lives in an isolated house on a headland in Dyfed, where he frequently sketches on the beach, and the subject of this construction is the waves: ‘I cut into the wooden base to different depths so as to be able to show waves and also ripples and heads of water in shallow places.’

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

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