Bailey, Rowan (2015) Concrete Thinking for Sculpture. Parallax, 21 (3). pp. 241-258. ISSN 1353-4645

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This article proposes to explore the variegated plays of concrete as a travelling concept through four specific examples, viewed from the locality of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle in 2015. It will be argued that ‘concrete’ makes possible a triangulated reading practice in, of and for sculpture. The first example looks to the use of concrete, as a material, in some of the ‘technical’ experiments of Henry Moore, from the 1920s-1930s. The second example is the only public concrete sculpture by Barbara Hepworth on record, entitled Turning Forms. This is a kinetic work which was commissioned for the Festival of Britain in 1951. The psychic registrations of form-in-concrete will be explored through the aesthetic reception and understanding of these works. The third example examines the interplay between abstraction and concretion in a work of structural engineering: the Arqiva transmission tower on Emley Moor. This structure is a working utilitarian model of the telecommunications industry which took hold in the 1960s and 1970s. It is also a sculptural monument in a landscape of other design ‘types’. The fourth example considers the recent display of Lygia Clark’s Bichos at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, in 2014-2015. Bicho Pássaro do Espaço (‘Creature Passing through Space’) (1960) reveals a particular translation between concrete thinking and concrete experience. These examples call upon the semantics of the concrete as a thought process and will track a journey into a region marked by three interconnected points: the concrete specificity in the material works selected, the broader field of concrete forms within which the sculptural may sit and the philosophical/aesthetic language of concrete for sculpture.

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