The sculpture When the Landmasses First Appeared has two distinct elements: the zinc–coated steel frame and the laminated wooden ribbon, which snakes around and through it. The fluid, wandering line of the wood contrasts with the rigid metal enclosure, both in form and in material character. Deacon has made the wood rich in texture, with honey–like glue oozing between the laminates, whilst the cool, hard steel is static and remorse-less. The freely drawn ribbon is to some extent contained by the metal enclosure, even though the rhythms inherent in the wooden structure suggest a desire to escape. A sculpture about containment, about movement, this relates in form to other works by Deacon, such as Blind, Deaf and Dumb (1985) and Listening to Reason (1986). When the Landmasses First Appeared creates relationships between the forms and the ground that are much more complex than in previous works. The lightness and freedom of the wood emerges from and writhes around the mineral element, metal formed originally within the earth’s crust.
“When I began making sculptures, the procedures that I used were intended to make the act of work create the form and input structure into the material. Structure and material and form were all equally present on the surface: there was no hierarchy between those elements” (Richard Deacon, John Thompson et al., 1995).
About The Artist
Richard Deacon is one of Britain's most successful and influential sculptors. Working both on a domestic and a monumental scale, Richard Deacon combines the essence of human form with elements of engineering in his precisely made structures. Deacon's catalogue of materials is vast and diverse and has in the past included laminated wood, stainless steel, corrugated iron, polycarbonate, marble, clay, vinyl, foam and leather. He is known for his tenacious progression through materials and will rarely stick to the same material for a new work. Instead he changes material each time, which he sees as a way of beginning again each time and thus of finishing what had gone before. Deacon considers himself a 'fabricator', taking pride and delight in the manufacturing and engineering of the finished result. Often the process of the construction is exposed; metals are riveted together in sweeping shapes, screws protrude, remnants of glue remain and wood is bent and twisted into unlikely ribbons and smoothed to solid perfection in volumetric states. This exposure is a deliberate act to emphasise the sculptor behind the sculpture, raise questions about the distinction between art and craft and artistic labour. There is also a conscious narrative that permeates many of Richard Deacon's sculptures, contriving meaning through material that is reiterated and reinforced through his titling; 'Water Under the Bridge' (2008), 'No Stone Unturned' (1999).