Hubert Dalwood Sculptures and Reliefs

Hayward Gallery, London 24 January – 4 March 1979

Catalogue Introduction (excerpt) by Norbert Lynton

The work of Hubert Dalwood, taken in conjunction with the story of his career, highlights important aspects of the art history of our time. Negatively so, in most respects. One of the most original and inventive minds in the field of modern sculpture, an artist with a pronounced feeling for joy and for drama, the activating spirit behind many an art venture, he fell foul of some of the conventions that rule our supposedly so unconventional art world, the conventions of 1960s and 1970s avant gardery. This is why there has not been a full-scale exhibition of his work until now though the idea has been mooted many times. Dalwood died after a short illness in 1976. His first retrospective is thus also a memorial exhibition. The only advantage this brings with it is that we can see his work whole. The story does not end in question marks or dots – except in so far as projects have been left unaccomplished. For those of us who knew him well there is also the strange sense of looking at his work, weighing it up, becoming familiar with individual pieces or aspects of them, in his absence. “How’s the work going then, Nibs?” “Oh, marvelous, marvelous.” Dalwood enjoyed sculpture, his own more than just about anyone’s. He was excited by his own ideas, by the sparks of personal experience which he was feeding and fanning into flame. “I’m glad you like that one”, he’d say; “I like it too”. He’d not notice, or pretend not to notice, that in fact you were having difficulty coping with his latest change of direction – that, in visiting him in his studio you were hoping to find an old friend surrounded by work which would be not old but sons-of-old. Change can seem like disloyalty, especially to friends wishing an artist his due of fame and rewards. Why couldn’t he develop that line he had started on last year, disturbing at first encounter but now admired as sculpture and loved as the work of a wayward friend; Ideally one would have liked to be left alone with the new stuff, given time to shake off one’s expectations. Not that he demanded praise. Far from it: he was armed with marked convictions regarding his good work and his bad. I have never heard an artist dismiss his own work so harshly, dismiss and destroy. His public cheerfulness concerning his latest sculpture was honest enough, but it went with conscious critical scrutiny. It was in the nature of his creativity that optimism should rule in the studio and last through the months of preparation, shaping, assembling or whatever went into the current work -1 suspect that one of the benefits we used to visit Dalwood for was this take-away helping of energy and good spirits he always had on offer – but he knew when something had misfired and gave himself no quarter. Sculpture is expensive stuff and Dalwood never had any illusions about the pleasures that money can buy. But the demands of his work were paramount: out the unsuccessful piece would go where someone else might have fiddled with it and fudged something out of it. There were very hard times, as well as better ones. Now that Dalwood’s mobility has been arrested – he was 52 when he died, to which one must add that he was the most living person ever and that the fact of his dying made one feel that something much more universal had gone wrong, as though for Nibs Dalwood to die was evidence that we’d all somehow misread life – now that we can see that mobility in inert objects and retrospectively, without wondering what might come next, we can perhaps relax enough to give it the right kind of attention.

For his work was not entirely serious. I am not saying that he was not a serious artist but that he was serious enough, and sufficiently at one with himself as man and sculptor, to make sculpture that was not art about art but also art about life. Of course this is true of the best art in any age, however much artists and critics opt to chew and re-chew the aesthetic cud. (Who will write that seminal essay on humour in the work of Brancusi?) It is true even about much of the best sculpture of the Sixties and Seventies though that was a period when, Pop apart, brows were knitted and miens were more than usually sober as sculptors rejected the benevolent humanism of Henry Moore and the sometimes hollow dramatics of Fifties figurative sculpture. One has to name Anthony Caro here: the change, the new and decidedly puritanical emphasis is inseparably associated with his name and his change of direction in 1959-60. In fact, Caro too is a far more mobile, far more autobiographical artist than his commentators arc willing to have us think, and so is that impressive younger sculptor associated with him, Phillip King. The official line has been that sculpture is about sculpture, about the relationship of forms in space, with or without colour but preferably without any expressive role being allowed to the materials employed. The only permitted alternative was to adopt a Dadaist pose and make not art about art but art about the impossibility of making art – which is almost the same thing. There was sense and purpose in all this when it started. It was time to turn down the rhetoric, the emotional appeal: the cool wind that blew through British sculpture at the start of the Sixties cleared many heads and not all of them too much. But the dogma that drew this official line made Dalwood’s work difficult to discuss other than in terms of eccentricity. His work asserted openly that relationship of form, the visual quality of materials, the sensations of internal and external volume and space, were means to an allegorical end.

What some of the many and multi-layered sources of his sculpture were, the account that follows hopes to show. I should like to stress here that they were conscious ones. Dalwood knew what he liked, what spurred his invention. He pursued it and studied it, thought about it, spoke about it, carried it in his head, returned to it to recharge his imagination, and meant to go on doing so. He was as professional in his outgoing, in this sense, as others seek to be in their hermetic concentration on what they would consider purely sculptural concerns. In addition, technically and organisationally he was always the arch-professional. He organised his life in order to make sculpture – taught, travelled, read, discussed, supplied himself with the essential working space, tools and material, explored unusual materials or structural methods where necessary, welcomed commissions for public sculpture because of the larger-scale opportunities they brought him even though our national timidity before art, aided and abetted by official parsimony, would always in this country keep his activity on too mean a rein. Never mind: the important thing was to do it, to do as much as or a bit more than the occasion permitted and with efficiency and good humour attempt to lead the committee men who guard these openings into a more relaxed and optimistic view of art. The money was always minimal, the sites were often poor ones, the architectural context mostly dreadful. Better opportunities would come to him in the last years of his life when, partly by luck, Dalwood was able to work on Near-Eastern projects some of which arc being realised. Partly by luck: his feeling for architecture as object and environment was, we shall see, one of the most constant elements in his thinking and working and it was only to be expected that one or two imaginative architects should find in him the collaborator they were looking for.

Asked whether as a child he had thought he would like to be a sculptor, Dalwood answered No, it hadn’t been like that all, only “I always thought I would do some famous thing, that’s all… in spite of all the evidence to the contrary”1′. He had always liked making things, had always got into trouble for the mess that brought with it, and he had often and easily been top of the class at school for art, but there could be no thought then of art as a career. His father was a commercial traveller. Dalwood left school early and was apprenticed to the Bristol Aeroplane Company where he spent part of his time in the experimental drawing office. As a kid, like other kids, he had done many a drawing of aeroplanes – or rather drawings for aeroplanes, drawings about ideal aeroplanes, unvanquishable aeroplanes that could possess the universe; now he discovered a cognate world of exactness and space as he made up, from plans and elevations, projections of parts of machines yet to be born. There was something visionary about those drawings, as well as about the process of development and experimentation they served.

One day a week was allowed for “day release” training. All employees under the age of 18 got that and the factory had links with a technical school which, Dalwood says, was very good. But he didn’t care for it. “I found it was possible just to take that day off and go to art school during this day, and I did this for a couple of years and they never found out.” He had friends there and found the place merely more congenial. “I didn’t look at it as education, it was just an enjoyable thing to do.” He did quite a lot of sculpture, carving as well as modelling. He liked clay best, moulding and stroking the stuff into smooth-surfaced forms that he later recognised as essentially erotic. The convention of the day was that modelled clay had to be[1] surfaced with little balls or lumps; the object (usually a figure or a head) had to have an “open” texture, a routine version of Rodin’s unpredictable lumps and hollows. Dalwood’s were smooth and slippery and he was turned out of the school for the bad influence he might have.

The Royal Navy and war kept him in troubled waters for the next 1 ½  to 2 years. Then the ex-service grant: “I did by this time think of myself as an artist,” and there was no doubt that, with that grant, he would go to art school. It was Corsham he went to, i.e. the Bath Academy of Art at Corsham, a vigorous, young school run by Clifford Ellis – whom Dalwood considered a thoroughly bad teacher. No matter: there were enlightened people he would always be grateful to, William Scott and Kenneth Armitage particularly. Young men and women go to art school fired usually; by a general dream of being artists. Dalwood, with his varied experience, was beyond that stage, as well as positively enquiring and observant about any area of the world that interested him, but it was at Corsham that he began to think about sculpture, the ancient and ever new art that generally attracts less attention than painting and seems, paradoxically, more remote, yet at that very time was visibly undergoing a renaissance in Britain.

Henry Moore’s winning of the main sculpture prize at the Venice Biennale in 1948 may stand as a symbol of what was happening. Artists had of course long been aware of the energy and romantic warmth of Moore’s work, as well as, in most cases, afraid of the abstract and the Surrealist aspects of it. By the time Dalwood arrived at Corsham (in 1946) Moore was self-evidently Britain’s leading sculptor and the Venice prize implied world confirmation of his eminence – though of course the wider public of native culture consumers still thought him a joke and didn’t really respond to him until the Sixties. What Moore’s example taught at that time was the virtue of direct carving, of letting invention and emotional impulse collaborate with the physical nature of material and tools, and also the fertility of that area of imagery that bestrides the borderlands of the abstract and the figurative. Hepworth’s example reinforced the lesson, and there were two older traditions in British modernism which inflected it in opposed directions. Frank Dobson offered instances of post-Cubist classicism and idealism, bravely sculptural at one moment, more suave and fashionable at others. And Gaudier-Brzeska, the foreigner who so suddenly and enduringly became part of our art history, pointed towards expressive poses and distortions and towards an archaic and exotic primitivism. At Corsham, Dalwood became conscious of this history, as well as of the great Brancusi and of the Italians who attracted such acclaim in the post-war years (Marino Marini remains the most impressive). It is worth noting that there were other models that seem to have meant nothing to him. The most obvious of these, especially for a young artist inclined to modelling, was Epstein, the at times brilliant recorder of famous heads (knighted in 1954); there was also Underwood, skilled modeller of gently idealized but still approachable naturalistic nudes. These names suggest the positive and negative poles affecting Dalwood’s early development, and close to him there was of course Kenneth Armitage who at that time was making a cardinal transition from carving (and shortly after destroyed all his carved pieces). Armitage was eight years older than Dalwood but a man of (to this day) marked youthfulness and spirit. His influence on the student was various and profound, most, perhaps, his dual stance, public and private, vis-a-vis his work. Moore’s image was that of the honourable craftsman inspired by a Constable-ish engagement with nature and landscape. Though influenced by Arp, his work had none of Arp’s humour but aspired to sublimity and dramatic oppositions. Armitage in the Fifties was to be associated with a generation (led by himself, Butler and Chadwick) whose work, in pulling away from Moore’s seemed to express the prospect of renewed, and this time atomic, war: Herbert Read’s phrase, “the geometry of fear”, has stuck to their work ever since but it fitted only Chadwick’s really well and Armitage’s not at all. Two quotations from Armitage statements of the Fifties suggest something very different:

“I find most satisfying work which derives from careful study and preparation but which is fashioned in an attitude of pleasure and playfulness; or work which is supported by the artist’s accumulated experience and knowledge, adapted to the idea of the moment and carried out with the risk and tension of tight-rope walking.”

“I believe that art is something shared among all of us and feel almost apologetic for the effort and specialization involved in its production. Partly because of this I have felt obliged to give very simple and even frivolous titles to works which have meant rather more to me than their titles suggest.”[2]

These sentences point to a vein of irony and self-dissembling which is characteristic of much British art and damages it in the eyes of countries more given to confessional postures and autos-da-fe and guarded against anything they can dismiss as equivocal. This was in Dalwood from the start, the funniest and in a deeper sense the most humorous of men, and also one moved by deep passions and compassions. Armitage’s example may have reinforced his inclination to modelling as against carving – as also Clifford Ellis may have done in dismissing off-hand a group of carved pieces representing Dalwood’s vacation work during a public criticism at Corsham – and both Armitage and Dalwood spent some part of the late Forties an early ‘Fifties working on semi-abstracted figures, but it would be wrong to assume from this a stylistic alliance between the two.

For one thing, they were modellers of different persuasions. Armitage, from 1948 on, worked almost exclusively in plaster. Dalwood’s preferred material, until the Sixties, was clay. These materials can be handled in many ways, but there arc important differences between them and results they lend themselves to. Both call for armatures if the work is to have any vertical dimension. In working with clay, the piece is kept moist until it is finished so that the whole of it retains some malleability. Plaster hardens rapidly; more can be applied, or the dry form can be cut or filed or otherwise removed; any major alteration would mean substantial destruction. It is usually applied and worked with some metal tool or, given a thin mix, dribbled on. Clay is applied and worked with the fingers though tools may be used for sharp details or perforations; in either case the clay will carry the marks of how it was worked unless care is taken to smooth them away, in which case the surface will have a satiny, even slimy skin. That is what the head of Dalwood’s first art school had taken against. (The pressed-on little balls of clay which were the chosen personal convention of the time had the virtue of mitigating shortcomings in modelling – like painting with a broad brush may seem to overcome faults in drawing – and produced an appealing visual surface of lights and darks and could be done by anybody.) In addition, such figures of Dalwood’s early years as remain for comparison with Armitage’s show a markedly different character as well as distinct forms and surfaces.

One further influence and experience must be named to complete this outline of Dalwood’s development as an independent artist, and that was St. Ives. Were we here speaking of a painter, mention of St. Ives would immediately suggest the impact of Nicholson, a feeling for atmosphere and the genius loci (or the hope of developing it), and altogether a very English delicacy (in Nicholson partnered by the acutest of eyes and a trenchant wit). For a sculptor the role of St. Ives had to be a vaguer one. Dalwood had a friend there, Sven Berlin, who let him use part of his studio during summer visits and introduced him to other artists working in and around the town. To stretch his grant Dalwood worked as waiter at a well-known St. Ives hotel.

1949-51 were lean years. Dalwood had finished his training. He was back in Bristol, living with his parents and working in the back rooms of his brother’s place. He was still sorting out his mind and finding his artistic feet, doing his best to understand the appeals and claims of different kinds of modern and older sculpture, when he was given an Italian scholarship. He had applied for it with characteristic thoughtfulness: the Italians were proud of their regained eminence in modern sculpture, and also of the ancient Etruscan art on aspects of which their current success was based, so Dalwood applied for a scholarship to enable him to study Etruscan sculpture and also bronze casting in an Italian foundry. Thus he found himself with a year in Italy (1950-1). Some of that time he spent in Sicily, and what he saw there in the way of landscape and architecture in combination was to remain with him and bear fruit later. But better still was the experience of working with and for a large foundry in Milan. An “extending experience”, he called it. Here was real time-honoured professionalism, and more particularly professionalism at the service of sculpture – an at times more than merely supportive service. Thus Dalwood found himself modelling up a leg for a Marini that hadn’t cast properly, and chasing bronze casts of Boccioni’s famous Development of a Bottle in Space and Unique Forms of Continuity in Space of 1912 and ’13. The concept behind those heroic pieces of modernism concerned him little but it is clear he admired them warmly, perhaps for their strangely ambiguous open-and-closedness to the surrounding space and the play of scales whereby the Bottle becomes monumental whereas the obviously self-important striding figure which is the other sculpture becomes toy-like. Marini, he said later, had been demoted by this intimate contact, but he always liked the Tate’s Pomona for its relaxed generosity. While in Italy, Dalwood heard of a teaching post offered by the Newport (Monmouth) School of Art. The appointment was made without interview, on the basis of written applications; Dalwood reckoned he got the post because his came from Italy and stressed the combination of foundry experience and first-hand contact with the work of prominent Italians. As today teaching, preferably art school teaching, was the inescapable next step (and Dalwood was to hold teaching positions during most of his life). He found Newport a tedious place but it supplied him, a married man with a young family, with the necessary basic income while giving him time and space to work. During his Newport years he showed sculptures at the ICA in London and also at Gimpel Fils (Armitage’s gallery, too). In 1954 he had his first one-man show at Gimpel’s and in 1955 he moved to Leeds to take up the Gregory Fellowship in Sculpture at the University.

The Gregory Fellowship is one of the most enlightened examples of patronage in modern Britain. Founded by the printer and publisher Peter Gregory (of Percy Lund, Humphries & Co. Limited, Bradford and London) it was designed to add the yeast of creative example to the leaven of academic analysis. A painter, a sculptor, a composer and a poet would live and work within the sphere of a large and growing university, free to develop their personal work for two or three years but available for formal and informal contacts. (The music Fellowship was terminated after the first appointment; it was rumoured that the leaven feared the possibility of fermentation.) Dalwood’s predecessors in the sculpture Fellowship had been Reg Butler (1950-3) and Armitage (1953-5). Butler, a recent and highly successful renegade from architecture and architectural journalism, had not spent much time in Leeds; Armitage, a native of Leeds and a product (like Moore and Hepworth) of Leeds College of Art, had given more of his time and presence to the University. Dalwood committed himself fully to Leeds, and stayed on there beyond the end of his Fellowship in 1958.

The Leeds years were very important to him. Though there were to be major changes later, it was now that his work and experience jelled into a sculpture which, for all its variety, had the Dalwood character and embodied a coherent and communicable view of sculpture. Before I refer to people in Leeds whose friendship and activity would seem to have been important to him, the point has to be made that this development is natural to an artist, that Dalwood was of his nature a hard-working, questioning, critical (of self and others) and well-organized man, responsive to the world around him but also selective and unsentimental in his allegiances. A lot of what Leeds had to offer was of value to him, but Dalwood had a way of making his own environment wherever he was and imposing his own tempo. He changed Leeds – if this is hard to substantiate there are many who will vouch for it. And Leeds was changing. The Fellowships themselves were making an impact inside and outside the University. Terry Frost held the Painting Fellowship during 1954-6; Alan Davie (another Gimpel’s artist) had it during 1957-9. Both were of importance to Dalwood. Harry Thubron came to Leeds in 1955 as head of the school of painting at the College of Art. The Basic Course he established as a common initial experience for the students (thus far, and only thus far, an echo of the Bauhaus’ Vorkurs) has become legendary and misrepresents the nature of his impact and authority. He brought energy and joy. Pre-Thubron teachers at the College, aghast at the arrival of this convinced and zealous man, found themselves swept into collaboration and liberated by the experience. Here is a (possibly rather personal) summary of Thubron’s teaching: work, use any material, any method; everything is precious, nothing is absolutely precious; so do everything, anything, but look at what you are doing, look at what you are using, look; look at the forms you throw up when you are doing a colour experiment, look at the pattern in the wood you are mounting your work on, at the infinity of colours and textures, at the weight of what you have done. Terry Frost, an inventive and markedly spirited painter, responded to the vigour of Thubron’s teaching and supported it as visiting lecturer, and so did Alan Davie subsequently, bringing with him a characteristic aroma of sorcery and Zen. And so did Dalwood. It was symbolic of, and also factually the case with, Thubron’s vitalizing of the College that unprecedented mobility was established between schools and techniques, so that painting students would not only make sculpture but also use industrial machinery and processes. The sculpture school was more traditional in its attitudes and methods but Thubron was able to animate some of the staff working in it and also to bring Dalwood into the College as a visiting tutor moving freely between the painting and sculpture schools.

In suggesting links between Dalwood’s new work and that of his Leeds friends I am therefore speaking of mutuality and a context of warm experimentation, i.e. experimentation in order to widen and substantiate personal expression (as opposed to experimentation for its own sake). Yet it is clear that during these years Dalwood’s apprehension of the nature and potentialities of sculpture was changed through the influence of painting. This influence has been as constant and as fundamental in the history of modern sculpture as was that of sculpture upon painting in the Italian Renaissance, but it is much less often admitted and even more rarely analyzed in the former case, presumably because some element of shame is thought to attach to it. Dalwood’s development during those years represents one very particular instance. The most noticed change in his work is that, in the art-world idiom of the day, Dalwood “went abstract”. That is also the least significant point about it. Essentially it is not even true, but it is what that decade measured development by. That it was never a major matter for him is evidence of Dalwood’s keen understanding of what was going on, in his own work and others’. There was no break. What happened was more complex and more homogeneous. The earliest extant Dalwoods arc figures (in the Tate and the Arts Council collections) and he went on making figures until 1957. They were done, increasingly, out of his head, not from models. He built them up in clay (the largest of them was 46 inches high), and he worked on them often over months, with three or four on the go at the same time. They have something of the Fifties flavour now: spindly limbs refusing to the relatively massive torsos the support they need. What struck one forcibly at the time was their ugliness. Italian and other British sculpture of the time led one to associate this inequality of limbs and torso with a sort of nervous elegance (trousers got very tight just then) and avant-garde sculpture on both sides of the Channel tended towards spidery silhouettes. Dalwood’s figures partook of some of these qualities but made them secondary to a gracelessness and lumpishness that dominated one’s impression and deflected appreciation. Dalwood was no misogynist. Why this acerbity? It was revealing to see him at work. Hour after hour he fingered these clay objects, adding, gouging out, prodding, dragging, pressing. My chief memory of him in the studio is of the almost independent activity of those fingers. Dalwood smoked, talked, had the radio on or off. Occasionally there were important silences, as though he had found something in the clay, in the figure, but, silence or not, the fingers were at work, sometimes not changing the object much but tracing and retracing grooves, divisions, major turns of the form. What was happening, of course, was that the figure impulse was losing its predominance over the sculpture while the formal play took over – and here these words must include all the sculptural implications including texture (so important a part of one’s reading of the nude), the setting of solid form against thin form and space, the all-over dispositions of the main volumes and supports. After a while he would leave one piece and unshroud another and work on that for a while. In any case, his working process belonged to the borderlands of figuration and abstraction, or, better, to a land that was neither but rather an area for improvisation on the theme of a figure with the formal strategies becoming ever more self-generating and justifying. Before the figure was finished he would return it some way towards recognizability – and I fancy that an element of irony would come into action here, ruling out any easy appeal. The end product would be a figure variously transformed, in terms proposed by itself but developed far beyond their natural characteristics. The faces were liable to echo the displacements and exaggerations undergone by the rest of the body. Thus the result could look like caricatures though there was no intention to caricature, merely to explore the sculpture. These figures sound a tragic or at least solemn note if one knows them well enough, but I think that even this is misleading: they are inventions, records of discoveries, rather than comments on the human condition.

In 1959 (not in 1960 as has often been stated) Dalwood won the first prize for sculpture in the second John Moores Liverpool exhibition with his Large Object. That ovoid lump with surface markings is not unlike the head of one of his nudes, much enlarged. Yet it belongs to the category of “abstract” sculptures into which Dalwood had moved during 1957 via an almost limbless figure and some vertical screen-like two-sided reliefs he called Tree. There had obviously been no break, no watershed even, merely a recognition that it was possible to select from the form and complexities thrown up by the figure. The formal vocabulary did not change markedly, merely the total silhouette and, to be more exact, the verbal or formal signal extended to the viewer as he approaches the sculpture. The work of 1957-9 is remarkably varied, and indeed this was so throughout Dalwood’s career so that one entered his studio after an absence of any duration with more than a little trepidation: we were never allowed to rest on his laurels. The figures had been cast in lead when Dalwood could afford it, or in concrete, or left in the intermediate stage of plaster. He had then experimented with “skin bronze”, a layer of metal sprayed over the plaster, but in 1958-9 he was, I think, the first sculptor to have work cast in aluminium. This was very successful and became Dalwood’s preferred final material (as opposed to working ‘material) for many years. He found he could control the colour of the cast sculpture by means of a range of acids; later he also added colour by means of painting but then his materials diversified in the Sixties.

In this removal of interest from the ancient business of making a figure to exploring formal potentialities, Dalwood was responding to the example of painters he experienced in (but not only in) Leeds. The Tree sculptures of 1957 recall the soft and 14 varied and essentially free-hand grid paintings Thubron was doing then. Screen has something of Frost’s abstracted landscapes of 1955-7, with the vertical band suggested by the rising sides of the Yorkshire Dales and the stone walls. Icon, one of the most powerful pieces of the Leeds years, appears to combine memories of Dalwood’s figure sculptures with the rough dark lines William Scott and Roger Hilton were putting into their paintings in 1953-4. In 1957 Dalwood (who had made still life sculptures also in about 1949, and in Newport had told his students to model flowers, “as a teaching ploy” he said) began a new series of still life reliefs. Again these suggest Scott’s work, and again, too, they incorporate anatomical references prepared in his own figure sculptures. I also remember Dalwood working for many months on a horizontal relief that was to have been geometrical – by no means a hard-edge piece but a busy surface of roughly rectangular planes tilting this way and that. I think he destroyed it in the end. The nearest thing to it we have is The Beginning, but the destroyed relief would have lacked all hint of organic associations whereas The Beginning is full of them, a fusion, so to speak of Icon and Tree. Clearly he valued the ambiguous readings offered by these works and rejected the (literally) monotonous meaning of the wholly concrete composition. One markedly inorganic work does survive from these years, and that is The City, a rising pillar the middle section of which is elaborated to suggest a sky-scraper. Oddly successful in its way, this piece is a harbinger of things to come and implies a new range of ideas germinating in Dalwood’s mind. In the context of 1958 it looks out of place but it does incorporate ambiguities of reading thanks to its title, which not only prevents us from seeing the piece as an abstract but also introduces a question of scale that is intentionally left unresolved. Is the sculpture, like a model, a small version of something vastly bigger or is it, as in a landscape painting, an image of something some distance from us? This particular tension Dalwood was to employ repeatedly; thanks to the strength of the classical tradition, it does not seem to arise with figure sculpture.

The Leeds experience, then, taken as a whole (including a whole range of social and intellectual contacts with academics[3] as well as artists), led Dalwood to an altered attitude to sculpture as such even if, as I have emphasized, it produced no sudden change of direction. He had thought of sculpture as a vehicle for “projecting a sensation”. One took a subject, normally a figure, and burdened it with meaning relating to oneself through some negation of the expected figure image. The painters’ concerns were not of this sort. For instance, it was a side-issue to Frost that the new pictorial formula he was exploring had been stimulated by a particular landscape seen under particular conditions. He felt no need to deny the external source, but then neither did he feel in any sense bound to honour it: the landscape would look after itself, and his business was to make paintings. Thus Dalwood realized that there was no problem of abandoning or not abandoning the figure. The issue of abstract art, so much squabbled over in the Fifties, was dead.  The artist could make his forms with or without direct reference to the visible world; his justification lay in what he did with them. And what Dalwood did with them, most especially in the years up to 1966, was to take the widest possible liberties with mankind’s store of forms and, in the process refuse the demands made on sculpture equally by tradition and by international modernism.

One typical means of achieving this liberty – not, I suppose consciously picked on for the purpose, though one is astonished to realize how perfectly it counters the influence of painting – was his line in sculptural utensils or quasi-utilitarian sculptures. He was not of course the re-discoverer of this ancient form of art (one thinks of certain Gaudier-Brzeskas and Brancusis) but there is something essentially Dalwood about the way this series grew quite naturally out of his work while presenting a whole range of new possibilities to it, while also being totally distinct from the sculpture and the sculptural concerns of the time. The series felt blatantly archaic. It was also blatantly inventive. But it had nothing to contribute to the sculptural debates of the day, championing neither the abstract nor the figurative parties, nor the direct carvers versus the modellers, the mechanistic idiom of industrial forms and surfaces versus the organic or the accidental. The only question was whether these things were sculptures at all, and in asking it one realized suddenly the extent to which almost all modern sculpture, in spite of all the talk about art’s autonomy and about sculpture as object, had still been concerned with making models of something real or imagined Lucca, of 1958, is a clear forerunner; Double Casket, Small House and House, all of 1959 and Landscape Object, 1960, are fully-fledged examples. In the short introduction Herbert Read wrote for Dalwood’s one-man show at Gimpel’s in 1960, he referred to the peculiarly “cryptic” character of Dalwood’s style and suggested an affinity between sculptures on show and the paintings of Alan Davie, both artists “aiming to create a magic capable of appealing to our sceptical age”. Returning to “primeval archetypes” was their way of achieving this, the only possible way, Read suggested. There is some justice in this but Davie’s exemplary magic-making did seem to promise a semi-Zen, semi-archaic cult and of this there was no hint at all in Dalwood or his sculptures. They were and are sculptures, nothing more or less, but unusual sculptures in that they promised enjoyment if not specific usefulness. In this way he circumnavigated the slough of syrup into which sculpture slips so easily the moment it seeks to entertain, as some of the Italians were busily proving. There is a distinction also to be drawn regarding Dalwood’s use of archetypes, a distinction difficult to make in an exhibition dominated by the Large Object. That does indeed have something primeval about it, and it reminds one that William Turnbull (whom Read did not name in the list of those who represented the younger branch of “The British School” of sculpture) was making totemic and other markedly primitivist sculpture during I959-62[4]. The others were not truly archetypal at all, but suggest more developed . societies, exotic cultures perhaps, whose artifacts express a sophisticated view of man’s place in the world and indeed speak of a developed sense of pleasure as a transmittable gift unconfined by death. This may strike some as too fanciful, but no one could claim that there is anything truly archetypal about Double Casket or Landscape Object, and if Small House and House do suggest funerary objects – the models put by-Egyptians and others into tombs to supply the needs of the dead – one has to allow that to modern eyes such objects are toy-like. In addition, they embody visual puns about keys and keyholes that recur in the contemporary piece. Open Square. Signs, of the same year, is an unusually linear sculpture, a graphic form in space, that incorporates two movable elements similar to old watch keys. In this work, as in the caskets, Dalwood pre-echoed the Sixties’ dream of involving the public in artistic collaboration by providing manipulable works of art.

Dalwood had in fact made quasi-utilitarian sculptures or, as he preferred to call them, “ritual objects”, in about 1949-50; he had also, in his student years and immediately after, coloured some of his pieces – another way of pushing them towards a place in ordinary life and away from the privileged plane of art. The objects of 1958 and after sprang from a strong desire to give sculpture “a more direct relevance to people’s lives”. Many of the people he knew in Leeds had strong left-wing views, and perhaps this series marks his response. He could not for a moment believe that some form of socialist realism would be right for him nor indeed for sculpture in anyone’s hands; ambiguity, he was convinced, was an inalienable quality of sculpture, and the audience that demanded, or was said to demand, complete naturalism should look for it elsewhere. Whereas to make ritual objects for a non-existent ritual involved something like a response to an imagined commission, an attempt to meet a need that could be past or future if it was not present. Completely abstract sculpture seemed cold in comparison, for these objects, he felt, could “carry a weight, a density of feeling” that abstract sculpture could not support, and yet they left him his freedom to invent and develop formal relationships without needing to justify them in terms of a model or a subject.

In fact they are far from cold, but friendly rather, quirky and cheerful as well as a little strange. More than any other Dalwoods until we come to the small and again modelled sculptures of his last years, these display a talent for decorative elaboration of which neither traditionalist sculptors nor the avant-garde could match or approve. Surface pattern and added colour, pie-crust edging and other ornamentation challenge one’s reading of the material nature of the pieces as well as of their main forms. The result is that these objects are yet further removed from their elevated status as works of art. They put me in mind of Picasso’s still-life relief of 1914 (since 1969 in the Tate), which hovers so strangely between familiarity and singularity, amicable and yet a little ominous. The Dalwood objects too take on something like an animal presence, half pet, half threat.

In 1962 Dalwood moved to London, showed at the Venice Biennale and went to Paris for the wedding of Yves Klein. Each of these events had its significance. London in the early Sixties had a vivid and optimistic art life. Today it is fashionable to denigrate it for its insubstantiality, perhaps out of envy. Whatever faults it had, it was a time of expansion, of work, of relatively lively public response, and also of promising developments in the structure and educational aspirations of the art schools. Dalwood had not lived in London before but he was well known as a visitor to the capital and through the by now regular showing of his work. At the Biennale he was one of the trio of artists filling the British Pavilion: the others were Ceri Richards and Robert Adams, both rather older men (born 1903 and 1917 respectively). Dalwood was an apt choice to go with them, though, his work at this stage fitting well between the visionary, almost Abstract Surrealist paintings of the Welshman and Adams’ rather precise, sometimes poster-like, sculptural compositions in steel. He won the David Brighton prize for sculpture – not a major thing but a well-timed bit of encouragement that brought with it some money and a little publicity. The works he showed dated from 1957 to 1962 and included two large pieces whose presence, it is reasonable to assume, must have attracted the award. One was Minos, six feet high and somewhat more than that long; the other was High Judge, a vertical sculpture much the same in height. Both were shown, correctly, on the floor of the gallery. They are very different from each other, the former spread out like an anecdote, the latter concentrated like a monument. They signalled a new vein of rhetoric in Dalwood’s work, a trumpeting almost. Flag (1962) and Monument to a Poet (1963) belong to the family of High Judge, and such sculptures as Orb (1959) and Ark (1960) suggest it stemmed from the ritual-object series. But now messages seem to be added to potential utility. This began with OAS Assassin. As already said, Dalwood went to Paris for the Klein wedding. It was a big social occasion. Apart from the ceremony itself, there were glittering parties graced by church dignitaries as well as by France’s intellectual echelons, and the whole event was given a macabre and dramatic edge by the eruption, during those same days, of the Algerian crisis. There were explosions in the streets and rumours of much else. Paratroopers were expected to descend from the heavens any minute. Back in England, Dalwood made OAS Assassin with unusual rapidity. Characteristically, its meaning is broad rather than specific and partisan^; about France rather than the particular issue. The crisis was widely reported in Britain (terrorism was much less of a routine happening in 1962 than it has become in the Seventies) but it was difficult for us to sense the tensions that had built up in Paris and in Algiers and relatively easy to see the whole thing as ordinary Gallic de haut en has mismanagement. Dalwood’s sculpture too seems at least partly ironic, an urn-like object that hesitates between acclaim and lamentation. As a piece of sculpture it was more surprising, more shocking, than would seem possible today. The assertive forms, made more rhetorical by their decoration of stripes and diamond and by the initials “R.F.” [Republique Francaise), had their blatancy heightened and mocked by a ribbon, instantly tatty, dangling dispiritedly from the piece’s rear end. In many respects this sculpture remained unique. Others followed that implied a political position, most obviously Una Grande Liberta with its unambiguous symbolization of oppression. Nothing uncertain about the sculptor’s attitude here; the message is in the sculpture itself, with its attractively tinted and decorated base, first seeming to announce a festive theme (the Spain of the travel posters, bullfights and oranges). It may be relevant that 1962 was the year of Pop art, when not only the inner world of the art schools but also an amazingly wide public became aware of the emergence of (as it seemed then) a new and unprecedented kind of imagery in painting – cheeky, often vulgar, sometimes very witty but above all out-going, garrulous. Very occasionally, its themes included politics. It is possible that Dalwood responded to both the thematic and stylistic openings preferred by Pop. Certainly he thought well of Derek Boshier whose paintings of 1962 (shown at the Grabowski Gallery in an exhibition titled “Image in Revolt” as well as in the widely noticed Young Contemporaries exhibition) are epigrammatic visual comments on the fate of modern man caught between global propaganda and the global hygiene operated by such services as the CIA and the KGB. Whether or not Dalwood was directly affected by the Pop wave, it was as basic to his art as to his life that he was open to experience and mobile in pursuit of it. In British sculpture the early Sixties were the years of Anthony Caro’s rise to pre-eminence. In 1961 we had our first sight of his post-America sculpture at the Marlborough New London Gallery; his 1963 one-man show at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, of fifteen large to very large pieces, was public confirmation of an importance already recognized in art circles. But Caro’s sculpture, and the sculpture his example stimulated, meant little to Dalwood. “Caro’s things never interested me. They are very much concerned with the manipulation of formal things and the whole ethos of that work is that it doesn’t regard things. It makes its own world completely without relationship to any other. And this, by definition really, doesn’t interest me.” The Caro cult (which is what it felt like at the time) may have pushed Dalwood some way in the opposite direction, into sculpture that unmistakably reflected the real world and its concerns.

His 1964 one-man show at Gimpel’s was marked by robust impurity. It was polite neither in the academic sense of old artistic distinctions upheld nor in the current avant-garde one of focusing uninterruptedly on purely sculptural concerns. It did not keep its distance. It did not in any obvious sense cohere within itself. The exhibits were drawn from the production of 1963-4. There were pieces of what one just might have called pure sculpture, such as Egyptian Column. There were the more rhetorical sculptures, with and without specific political reference. There were small sculptures, again relatively tacit and formal in their interest, that looked as though they could become hortatory if set up on one of Dalwood’s timber altars (e.g. Prime Mover). There were two outstanding and (one felt) culminating examples of the ritual object sort, confusingly tragical-comical-historical-pastoral: Landscape Object and Persian Explosion both in painted aluminium. There was even a piece called Space and Perspective, of aluminium with enamel, in which Dalwood was exploring perspectival ambiguities. An enamel plaque, Red Cross was included in the exhibition but not in the catalogue, a strong, somewhat heraldic piece. And most remarkable of all was the largest work. Riders and Reflections, seven feet high and nearly nine feet long, in plaster for aluminium. This work made a great impact at the “British Sculpture in the Sixties” show at the Tate Gallery in 1965 but was subsequently broken up. In the smaller space of the South Molton Street gallery it presented itself as an environmental sculpture. Two planes, set up at right angles to each other and leaving a gap between them big enough to walk through, also served as support and arena for symbolic forms that were blazons and monuments and also echoes and paraphrases of each other. Colour was used to individualize elements further. The total effect was dramatic, but magical rather than aggressive. It was not difficult to find unifying qualities in all these sculptures but they had to be looked for; what struck one was diversity, quicksilver energy, pleasure in discovery. Difficult to write about, offering no clear dogma or theoretical attitude on which to thread one’s responses to individual pieces, such an exhibition was easily dismissed as playful at a time when artists were taking this or that partisan line. It would have been better for Dalwood had his sculpture been more woeful. There would have been room in British art consciousness for a sculptor of the human condition – to partner Francis Bacon, so to speak. But Dalwood was the least histrionic of artists. He enjoyed sculpture too much.

Later in 1964 (the exhibition was in September) he went to the United States to teach at the University of Illinois as visiting professor. One feels that the change of scene was well-timed. In the States he found himself more sympathetic to the colourful, lawless sculpture of such West Coast men as William R. Geist and Robert Hudson than to the concise abstract forms soon to be promoted in New York as “ABC Art” or Minimalism. David Smith was to impress Dalwood later, with later pieces; the earlier work he found flimsy and decorative, “very trite”. At Smith’s first large European show, at the Tate in 1966, Dalwood distinguished sharply (and in my view correctly) between his earlier work and the strong pieces of 1961 and after, finding their climax in the Cubi series of 1964-5. He took some self-mocking satisfaction in the fact that Smith “didn’t start doing anything any good until he was 52 or something”. But while Smith was making that series Dalwood was looking more at the irreverent, funky art of San Francisco…. and at the Illinois landscape. “In an odd way, the Illinois landscape, that terrific flatness with grain towers growing out of it – which I found very difficult to enjoy at first sight – has become mixed up with work I am doing now [1967], together with other ideas about architecture”. We shall see the significance of this in a moment. The response he is alluding to was not immediate – it never was, where the deeper formal and thematic levels of his work were concerned. Dalwood returned from America refreshed and stimulated in several respects, but his sculpture did not go well. “I want to make it clear, about the work I did in the States, and about the things I did just before, that – although the ideas had interest for me and continue to have interest for me – as sculptures they were very bad. I know that it is proper always to regard anything you have done as the best that is available at any particular time; I now don’t regard those as good sculptures. That is one period where I think I was mistaken. I don’t know whether ‘mistaken’ – how can one say that, what else might I have done but pursue this thing – but for me they were mistaken, the whole thing was mistaken. I am thinking of sculptures you haven’t seen, that aren’t extant; it’s the best thing that could have happened to them.”

In fact, there is a painfully big gap in his work, from Riders and Reflections of 1964 (broken up for practical reasons) to Venusberg of 1966.


In 1966 he was 42. He was now head of the sculpture department at Hornsey School of Art (later incorporated into the Middlesex Polytechnic). He had shown in about twenty-five different exhibitions in Britain and abroad, from Ljubljana to Pittsburgh and Tokyo. He was very much part of the London art scene and increasingly involved in acts of benevolent organizing – studios, exhibitions, occasionally jobs for fellow sculptors. He and his work were well known, even if he had not made much impact on the wider public.

When he exhibited again the new work was, or seemed, completely different. Our first chance to see it outside the studio came with the 1966 open-air sculpture exhibition in Battersea Park. Dalwood showed there – in an exhibition much more vigorously selected (by Alan Bowness) than its six predecessors – one large piece, Mirage I. We were confronted by a metal object set atop a large, square, white-faced box with sloping sides that kept us at a psychological distance; only at what was obviously the back of the sculpture was the plane of the box vertical, and the aluminium thing on top too looked as though it had been sliced off on the same plane. One was not certain whether to read the white base as part of the sculpture or as its setting. The sculptured thing on top was in aluminium as we’d come to expect, but it was not modelled. To be exact, what we saw first was not modelled: close on a hundred aluminium columnar shafts, standing in two detachments three abreast and suggesting, more than anything else, a classical temple. But inside the temple space, set back some way from the front but very much sliced off at the far end, was a modelled, soft shape: a sight of landscape through the temple? The columns and the soft form mirrored themselves, top to bottom; this was obvious in the soft form, whereas one thought of the columns at first as being waisted half-way up. Between the box top and the columns came a stepped stylobate, relatively large in scale for the columns but effectively scaled to set off the temple from the base. When Dalwood showed again at Gimpel’s in 1967, the catalogue included a photograph of Mirage I but the piece was too large to be shown in the gallery. But it clearly was not a sport in the sculptor’s output. The whole gallery was full – rather too full, I recall – of sculpture made largely of columns, with or without modelled elements and ranging in dimensions from 76 inches to 8 inches. Clearly all this sculpture was about some-thing, and what it was about was not a simple physical fact but a vision – a complex of experience and reflections upon those experiences, of surprise and surprise recollected, of objects and environments outside the artist but encompassed and transformed by him by virtue of an intense interest in them as phenomena.

The main constituents of that vision were architecture and landscape, but before we accept that and attempt to understand more closely in what way they existed for Dalwood, we must remind ourselves that sculpture in the Sixties was not supposed  to be visionary, was not supposed to be about anything other than itself, but plainly a sculptural fact made of self-explanatory materials and placed into our factual space. The one thing sculpture had not to be was surrealist, and this surely was surrealist sculpture. Remembering De Chirico I’d prefer to call it metaphysical but the distinction is one of tendency rather than class, a tendency within the vast poetic spectrum surrealists set out to explore but which pre-existed them as man’s normal and natural mental habitat. Imaginative poetry was out of bounds to Sixties sculptors. I have argued elsewhere that this was ultimately nonsense: that even the most abstractly related abstract forms carry associational meaning, and that the moment our space is occupied by a functionless object we are invited to inspect it as an object of significance, the space acquires a special aura even if it remains the same measurable space of fact (as opposed to the fictionalized space in which we see, say, a Degas dancer doing an arabesque on top of a gallery base). All art partakes of surrealism. No art object is merely itself. What needs stressing here is that Dalwood was not really alone in his transgression of avant-garde convention. He was merely the worst transgressor and met with criticism from fellow artists that others escaped for not very clear reasons. Caro’s Prairie would have spoken of landscape even without that title and without its sandy colour. Phillip King, closely associated then with Caro, had for some years welcomed similar associations and specified them by means of titles. It may be answered that the source of these sculptures was none the less abstract, sculptural rather than natural, but then Dalwood’s passion for architecture was at root formal too, not historical or biographical or even cultural but a response to scale and surface and how one plane meets another and how the viewer stands in relationship to it all. Moreover Paolozzi, secure from art-world criticism within his carapace of reputation and imperturbability, was making very strange objects in the mid-Sixties, remote from his antique machine monsters but ghoulish none the less. Medea, for instance, a textured rectangle of cast aluminium stumbling along, as it seemed, on welded aluminium serpentine legs (made and exhibited in 1964). So sculpture was far from single-minded those days, but none of the other sculptors pursued one particular class of phenomena with Dalwood’s passion. “These, really, came out of two things. One is my continuing interest in architecture, but architecture in a specific sense. The sort of thing that interest me are … when a tower grows out of the ground, like in that place in Italy where all those towers are [San Gimignanoj and in Greece as well, in the Peloponnese, you get these towns just of towers. But the thing that I notice, and that attracts me very much, is the attachment of these things to the ground, what the road is like, this marvelous road made out of blocks, with no pavement which destroys the attachment of buildings in Northern Europe and now increasingly in Italy and Greece. There are a lot of towns still where this sort of thing doesn’t happen, and you get this very direct thing: this building comes down and there’s the ground. And the ground in a city is absolutely marvellous; the drains are carved out of granite . . . That sort of thing.” These words connect easily with the tower sculptures that were Dalwood’s main concern in 1967, but they apply more widely in that they prove, as anyway do the sculptures themselves, that he was not after some romantic echo of times gone past or implications of superior value by hinting at admired cultural properties: he loved what architecture does. Architecture and setting as formal experience. In the Jones interview he did not mention what may have been the moment when this interest was seeded. Certainly his visit to Sicily in long-ago 1951 was important: he never forgot the Doric temple at Segesta. But before that there must have been other encounters and familiarities that predisposed him this way: his time at Corsham Court for instance (although this may have had a negative consequence too: he was always impatient the politenesses of the English landscape garden) and his home town, Bristol. And later there had been Leeds. When he relinquished the Fellowship he had to relinquish also the studio supplied by the University and he found for himself a little place “in a very, very decayed area”, a semi-derelict area of old industrial buildings. “And just on the corner of the street there is a sub-generating station, and, because of the exigencies of the site, the building couldn’t be rectangular. The sides were meant to be parallel but they had been squashed so that they formed a parallelogram, a rectangle without right-angles at the corners. I used to go past it a lot and look at it… and it gave you a sense of dissociation from where you’re standing. It was very odd. Because you know that all buildings are rectangular, the position that you’re in you assess in terms of the perspective of it. If someone has altered the perspective, it alters the position you are in in relation to the building. It disorientates you. I often go to Leeds and I have seen it again since, I see it every time I go there, and it intrigues me because, in a sense, what is happening is a very curious thing: being displaced by an object. You are displaced by the object because you assume things about the object that aren’t right.” Ideas of this sort were incorporated, again, in his 1967 sculptures most particularly in the towers which therefore look a good deal more straightforward in photographs than they are in actual experience. And, again, there is the wider point that what held Dalwood’s attention was not the character of the area with its social and economic implications, nor the function of the building, but the emotional consequences coming from the uncertain reading it forced on him. He spoke also of the reticulation of buildings’ surfaces, as in the Houses of Parliament, and of the false perspective of the famous arcade in the Farnese Palace in Rome (the word “intriguing” came up frequently when he spoke of such things, to describe his own response but also the interest that caused such things to be built). “When I go anywhere it is the buildings that interest me enormously. When I was in Illinois – well, you could say there isn’t any architecture but there are those rows of grain elevators, rows of grain storage things and those elevators on this vast plain. They become temples.”

He then spoke about one of his recent sculptures, without naming it. It may have been Venusberg. “It’s a temple, and the countryside has been put inside of it It’s a reversal really: there is the architecture, and included in it is the country ” This too must have related to experience and is no sort of conceit: landscape seen through an architectural frame becomes part of that architecture and appears to invade it In other similar sculptures, as perhaps in Mirage I, he incorporated “things like clouds” “The ‘surfaces are cut off to isolate a specific area; I deal within this area. I want to work with things that have associations with other objects, but I deal with them in a sense in the way they are dealt with in a picture.” In addition, showing cut surfaces in presenting a landscape theme implies that the landscape could go on for ever whilst also asserting the finiteness of the sculpture as object, “a dense object, with pressure outwards. At the moment I am very, very pleased with what I’m doing because it brings together a lot of areas for me”. For the mirage element, the mirroring of the lower part of columns and landscape/cloud, common to several sculptures in the series, Dalwood had no particular explanation. He associated it with the seeing and not seeing of closely packed columns as one moves past his sculptures or indeed walks through Bernini’s piazza of St. Peter’s. It was his way of bringing out the mysteriousness he sensed in landscape as much as in architecture. Only Mirage I was designed on a true rectangle; the other architectural sculptures all incorporate some departure from the basic geometry they imply and produce an “askew perspective” effect.

“There are marvellous non-functional pieces of architecture scattered about all over the world, all of which I should like to see. Enigmatic, completely enigmatic things.” One’s relationship with architecture he considered different from that one has (especially if one is an artist) with sculpture and painting: architecture is more distant partly on account of its scale and its immobility. Also the dwelling man makes for himself, his kings and his gods, has a profound impact on us. When time, and the possible loss of its original function, distances a building further, the impact is if anything increased; a combination of strangeness and familiarity. Man psychically inhabits all buildings, yet man also approaches them as a stranger. Thus, he said, buildings are “objects of magical utility” – and this implies, though he did not say so, that these sculptures are kin to the ritual objects he was making until 1964.

On the physical level, of course, the new sculptures were very different. Modelling played an incidental role in some and none at all in others. The process had become one of assembling made and bought parts rather than having a sculpture come into being under one’s hands – and there are people who regretted Dalwood’s abandoning of his extraordinary skill as a modeller. I was one of them, nostalgic for the long, slow and repeated experience of watching him at work in his Leeds studio, the first sculptor I had close personal knowledge of. He had now become a constructor. It took me time to realize the corollary of this, that he had to work much more in his head, by imaginative guess: he would not know what the sculpture was really going to be like until it stood, all put together before him. Also, of course, these sculptures were hard, hard-edge even, where the earlier ones had been soft in various degrees -especially when they were totally constructed out of industrial aluminium tubing and angle. This impression, once again, was inflected by experience. These hard sculptures had soft elements in them, and/or disorientating perspectival surprises, or mirror glass that was worn and thus ambiguously transparent and reflecting, and sometimes tinted glass at that. The mirror is often placed half-way up the sculpture, as though to pun upon what is in some cases the fact, i.e. that the top and bottom halves mirror each other. But it also serves to invite, so to speak, the landscape into the architecture, the setting into the sculpture. The mirror, being worn and tarnished gives an organic softness and mobility to what it reflects and also to its own, physically hard, surface. Some of this is true also of the aluminium surfaces where they are highly polished. The forms are immaculate and rational, but the experience is full of mystery.

Would he welcome a chance to do a really big sculpture, tones asked him. Yes, he would, and in a country setting preferably. “It would be a marvellous thing to walk through countryside, glades and trees, and suddenly, in the distance, shining like mad, there is this extraordinary box, this extraordinary thing that might almost have been put there by Martians because really it is unlike architecture, so that you’d never confuse it with a building.” Most sculpture has little effect out of doors, as London’s open-air sculpture shows repeatedly proved. Dalwood was always on the lookout for a chance to work on a really substantial scale, in town or out. By 1967 he had in fact already had seven commissions for large works. That June he went to Toronto to participate in an international sculpture symposium, and the sculpture he left behind in Toronto, was a shining cluster of stainless steel columns set into a patterned floor amid the trees, grass and fallen leaves of Hyde Park. That done he went on to take up a visiting professorship at the University of Wisconsin, and during this time he executed a smaller sculpture for the Southlands shopping centre that consisted of columns topped by a fly-past of ellipses suggesting clouds. To be successful out of doors, or in any large space, sculpture has to yield up much of its sculptural character and has to aspire to architecture. The astronomical instruments in the form of great straight and turning ramps at Raipur in India  were. we are told failures as observatories, but they remain, Dalwood said, “objects that torment the imagination , in a way that even the aptest, wittiest Oldenburg project for an urban monument could not.

These concerns led Dalwood into far-afield activities that tended to interfere with studio production at various times during the Seventies. One thing he worked on for several years, and was still engaged on when he died, was a book on gardens, the natural outcome of his sensitivity to landscape and to man’s need to structure his environment, the urge and the outcome. His visit to Japan, in 1973, greatly enriched his experience of gardening and of architecture, and this gave additional stimulus to the book idea. The Japanese garden seemed to him the apex of man’s achievement in this strange business of adjusting nature for the sake of delight. “Man’s intervention in the landscape” was his phrase for the activity, and in it he included the broadest possible range of examples from megalithic sites to modern “earthwork” sculptures. His studio sculpture during the Seventies reflected this increasing attachment. Where some pieces of the later Sixties had echoed the flat plains and vertical structures of Illinois, he now made table-sized sculptures that not merely looked like but actually were miniature gardens, with or without growing plants. He was impatient now of what he called “middle-sized” sculptures, roughly between three feet and twenty feet, and if one day he was working on a small sculpture embodying landscape variations or miniature gardens, the next he would be engaged on the elaborate business of planning and realizing a large-scale sculpture. There were art occasions for such things.

For the Royal Academy’s “British Sculpture ’72″ exhibition Dalwood made a timber structure, titled Arbor, which occupied most of Gallery VIII and stood on a lawn of “Astroturf”. For the exhibition I organized at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, entitled “Magic & Strong Medicine” and presented by Peter Moores as his second Liverpool Project, Dalwood made a vast timber and cardboard sculpture called Otera and measuring seventeen by thirty-two by twenty-four feet. It was painted red and involved great ribbons, a chasm packed with living turf and brass sheet set here and there like yellow puddles into the main surfaces of the sculpture. If Arbor was an arbour, Otera was a place – not sculpture, quite, nor architecture, but a platform with steps and posts and other props to permit the enactment of some slow and severe ritual. (Some months later Otera was set up once more in the gaunt first space of the Hayward Gallery. There it looked somewhat taciturn; in Liverpool it had slightly overfilled the space for which it had been made so that the visitor, forced to edge past it, could not but notice the changing relationships of the parts as he moved along and feel the promise of action the work entailed.)

Among the many pieces of the Seventies which are here exhibited for the first time are several landscapes of varied configurations, with or without man-made structures implied in them, and also, in Lower Slopes, an extraordinary attempt to make sculpture function like a photograph from the air and represent a section of an imagined landscape. There are also “tables” that seem to incorporate elements from architectural models; they must be imagined cast in bronze. The table tops seem to be arenas as of some sort; again there is a marked sense of an implied enactment. Dalwood was modelling again, sometimes in “terrossa ferrata” plaster, sometimes in clay. Landscape was still implied in many of the small sculptures he was making in 1976, and sometimes monuments. Some of them seem physically and mentally remote as though Dalwood’s physical and mental wanderings had taken him into a country to which we are all, as yet, strangers; others are recognizable to that sense with which we recognize something we have never actually encountered before. They are domestic objects, little pieces of magic to focus on from time to time, not the furniture music that Satie announced exactly, but sculptural chamber music, intimate in its spiritual as well as its bodily scale.

The counterpart of this activity was his work for and with architects. A full account of the competitions entered, commissions hoped for but not got. Commissions got but nugatory, sculptures pared down to fit impaired budgets, would be tiresome Dalwood wanted to make large sculptures; it was usually architects who created occasions for them; he got on with architects, especially with architects who did not merely want a sculpture to fill an awkward spot on a plan or an elevation, or a spirited rendering of an ancient coat of arms, but who were willing and able to allow him a wider shaping role and responded to his sense of the marvellous and the dramatic. One, such was Tom Hancock, with whom Dalwood worked on a number of occasions. Their relationship stretched over years and was founded in sincere mutual regard. It began in 1962 when Hancock was working on plans for the new Berkshire County Hall in Reading. Dalwood was to make a tall columnar sculpture but contributed also to the architectural design of the stoa-like building. Foundations were laid; the scheme was axed in 1965. In 1967 he entered a limited competition for a sculpture to go above the entrance to the Leeds City Art Gallery, and asked Hancock to collaborate with him, primarily to help with questions of scale and angle of sight. A project for the Central Bank of Oman, on which they worked together, would have included marble reliefs with water running over them in an internal, covered courtyard. Dalwood’s collaboration with Tony Irving had its origin in a one-man show Dalwood had in Beirut in 1974. Irving came to the opening; had there been more people there he might have spoken to Dalwood less. As it was they spoke at length. Irving was then working on a large building for Riyadh that required a large underground car park and needed something positive done to give character to what would otherwise be a large concrete platform. Dalwood made drawings in 1975 and the building is now well advanced after some loss of time for state budgeting reasons The Monetary Agency building in Qatar is finished but its grounds are being worked on now and the plans incorporate ideas for shaping access ramps and using a fountain to make a screen of water across a lower entrance. Dalwood also worked with Irving on a bank in Qatar and on the Administrative Block for Riyadh Sports City here he was concerned with shaping the grounds around the architectural complex and providing a tall fountain sculpture. For obvious financial reasons the Near East is able to venture where Europe counts its pennies and hedges its bets. But there is some aptness in the fact that Dalwood had to go outside Europe to find some realization of his ambitions. His dreams were less and less western as the years passed. Mankind’s dreams about gardens and vast sculptural structures are said to have found their first expression in the Near East.


Modern art seems to steer between extremes. One pair describes intentions and formal means and is sometimes called analysis and synthesis, sometimes reductionism and inclusiveness. A Neo-Plasticist Mondrian and a Brancusi egg may represent analysis or reductionism. Synthesis and inclusiveness are less readily exemplified with any finality because here each generation outbids the preceding. There was a time when, say, a Beckmann – realistic as well as abstracted, descriptive as well as symbolical, actual in theme yet rich in classical references – could have represented the extreme opposite to Mondrian’s. Today one would look for something far more complicated. Yet the opposition remains the same: between the concentrated, single-idiom act and the complex composition reaching out into several realms of experience. Another pair is related to, and overlaps with, the first but remains distinct. At one extreme we have the finite object – the Mondrian and the Brancusi will serve again – and at the other extreme the Conceptual parables involving a variety of actions and their recording or complex multimedia performances, but not only these. A Lissitzky Pronn print or painting conies close to finiteness as object; his Pronn Room was one of the pioneers of what we awkwardly call environmental art. That sounds like little more than interior decoration, but the issue is not that of spreading art all round the walls of one room but of creating a work of art that interacts positively with its physical setting and thus symbolically with its ideological context. There is a marked difference between the concentrated object, one thing in one place calling for meditative attention, and the work that is diffuse and diffused and knowledge of which has to be gathered from experiences that may be diverse in kind.

These polarities, and others, have imposed something like a zigzag path on the story of modern art. They provide what would seem to be inescapable coordinates in reference to which to plot any artist’s position in that story and also his attitude to it. I will add here that I do not believe in their deeper validity. Art, like the human nature of which it is a symbolical image, is remarkably contrary. A Mondrian and a Brancusi may be concentrated statements, but they are also ultimate distillations of multifarious ingredients. An elaborate composite work exploiting various media as well as the dimensions of time may yield a precise meaning. The polarities, as against the works themselves, tend to represent those parts of the artist’s thinking, his working process and perhaps the physical character of the works themselves, that he wishes to stress – and such emphases reflect the artist’s situation within his own development and within the context of art more than the true essence of what he is doing.

Dalwood’s activity as sculptor, like his life, was outgoing, peripatetic. He was not concerned with definitions. He did not have one goal. He was not prepared to subscribe to any limitation, let alone labour to impose one on himself and others. The Greenbergian account of modern art’s development towards ever more exclusive identification of each medium’s particular capacities and duties was to him specious history and stultifying dogma. Art had nothing to do with principles. It was the “plethora of principles” by which men acted that impaired all human schemes and bid fair to destroy the world. Dalwood was historian enough to have watched principle after principle age into convention and handicap. “What we can and must reinstate is the primacy of imagination … Imagination is not the prerogative of any profession or age group … imagination is more important than any particular expertise”. [5] If art has to have a purpose – is not making art so innate an urge and so ancient an activity to man that any purpose ascribed to it must at best be secondary? – then let it be that of stimulating the imagination. Mankind does not need legislators, unacknowledged or otherwise; we need magic and marvels and the artist is a person attuned to wonderment and skilled in transmitting it.

To be thus attuned required him to be “unprincipled”. The layman, Dalwood said, is confronted by works of art as the only evidence available to him of what the artist is about, whereas for the artist “the work that he produces is only the visible part of his creative life. He is often only too painfully aware of the gap that separates his ideas from their tangible manifestations. His creative life is for him a continuum of changing ideas, a dialogue between idea and object where the object is changed by ideas and the ideas are modified and conditioned as a result of the artist’s appraisal of what he has made. The visible painting or sculpture, like the proverbial iceberg, is all that can be seen above the surface. Lurking below are the ideas, apprehensions, fancies, influences and fleeting recognitions upon which the painting or sculpture rests”.[6] Dalwood was the kind of artist who openly admits the complex substructure “lurking below” – equivalent to the roots in Klee’s familiar simile of the tree – and this distinguishes him from those artists who seek to isolate their finished product from it and present it as an independent object, as far as possible non-autobiographical, self-referring and self-justifying.

The distinction is that between the pure and the impure in art, and again I must emphasize that what is being distinguished is how the artist wishes to be seen, not necessarily or wholly the nature of his art. But if Dalwood’s position in this sense is clear enough his work forces one into contradictory qualifications. Lack of principles or programme did not mean that his work was formally or stylistically uncertain or promiscuous. We have noted major changes of direction in it, but also the logical growth that marked each sequence of works. This becomes more apparent as the years pass and we become more familiar with them. Dalwood spoke of “changes in my formal thinking, i.e. doubts about the nature of sculpture itself”, and he was referring particularly to the move from his ritual-object sculptures into the architectural and landscape sculptures of 1966-7 and after. He rarely spoke of his formal concerns, no more than about the practical problems his sculptures posed. Yet his work was as much a product of formal ideas and their development as of associational material (and I have stressed that his valuation of these came primarily from their formal character). It was his enthusiasms he spoke and wrote about, and when they were drawn into new directions his sculpture changed direction too. Formal change reflected change in formal stimulus and that meant also a change of theme. There remains the problem that, as he said with typical realism, you cannot in the end account for works of art, his or anyone’s, by totting up formal and thematic factors; doing so would be “inaccurate, nothing more than a post-hoc rationalization: at the actual time that new ideas or avenues of exploration present themselves we don’t stop to examine their pedigree”. Behind the specifiable factors lie others less specifiable.

But if each work is but the tip of an iceberg, we may hazard that all the tips that are an artist’s production belong to the same iceberg, an iceberg turned and moved and washed by this current and that but essentially the same. From the modeled nudes, via their “abstract” development in Tree and Large Object, to still-life reliefs and Dalwood’s characteristic ritual objects was one clear development. A second one commences, after the interval we noted, with the temple and landscape sculptures of 1966-7 and continued in the towers and the places and emerged, gratifyingly, in further ritual objects. These now related to buildings and gardens where the earlier had related to vessels and perhaps to women. Yet in important respects the wheel has turned full circle. There remains the bold disparity of form and significance between, say, Double Casket (1958) and the tower sculptures, large and small (mostly 1967). The former is, in effect, a domestic object; something near and intimate. The towers not only refer to architecture but more specifically to the exteriors of buildings and seen at some distance. They belong, I suggest, to a distinct area of the imagination from that inhabited by potentially usable objects such as the Double Casket; it may well be that that distinction, between the intimate, personal and near and the anonymously shared, public and more remote, is truer than any we have referred to. Yet there were instances among Dalwood’s earlier work when his thinking moved between these areas – The City (1958) and the admirable Vertical Screen (1959) are the main examples, and the large relief he worked on about that time and abandoned would probably have been another – and related instances in his work of the Seventies when he adroitly moved from large public sculptures to small, domestic-object sculptures without evident formal/thematic reorientation. Moreover, in making discrete sculptural objects on the theme of architecture and/or landscape he was finding intimate roles for this remoter, less personal material. He was, so to speak, referring us out and back again. But his ritual objects had been emphatically organic in form and thus the later architectural sculptures assert a fundamental difference, an opposition even: modelled woman-object versus assembled structure. Also there is the question of scale. We are intensely conscious of the change of scale demanded by sculptures on the theme of architecture, whether they rise seven feet or three feet or three inches. The transubstantiation that turns a naked woman into a mantelpiece bronze we are so accustomed to that we scarcely notice the reduction. Yet much the same happens in each case. Change of scale makes the transformed object possessible and handleable (significantly Dalwood spoke of works of art as “tangible manifestations”, above), but also removes it on to the plane of fiction or fantasy and, optically, into a position some distance from us. The marvellousness of Dalwood’s sculpture resides in good measure in this duality of the near-and-tangible being at the same time the remote, and the later sculpture makes us aware of it in the earlier. The ritual objects, alone, are their own size, but then these imply a remoteness in time. He himself was to call them “anachronistic”. The aluminium towers hint mysteriously at other times, future as much as past, as well as at other places.

With all this in mind it is simple to label Dalwood a romantic, or even a Romantic, and pass on. To a very great extent modern art, and our assumptions about modern art, still stand under the sign of Romanticism, and even if this is recognized there remain aspects of Dalwood’s sculpture that can be held to link it particularly to that great age of imagination and feeling. But one immediate difference proposes itself, and it is of vast importance: this art lacks entirely the dejection, the Weltschmcrz, of Romanticism. Where sculpture is concerned – its historical position masked by the strong hold of the classical tradition – Romanticism is best associated with the work of Rodin profoundly personal in origin, as public as possible in its manifestations, and expressive most often of torment, of mankind at odds with its heritage of beliefs and values. Dalwood’s beginnings could well have associated him with the post-war echo of this mode in the “geometry of fear” sculpture fashionable in his student years. His growing conscious concern with sculpture as a means of transmitting wonder and admiration link him to the key Romantic concept of the sublime, rarely approached in sculpture but recognized and defined in relation to landscape and most effectively explored in landscape paintings and the visionary architectural schemes conceived around the time of the French Revolution by architects in London and Berlin as well as in Paris. Landscape and architecture become the twin stimuli of Dalwood’s sculpture, and when he spoke of making sculpture that would take us by surprise as we came upon it, and of sculpture that we should be able to occupy and move about in as we can on the Acropolis and in an old Italian town, [7] he seemed very close to the Romantic spirit. Yet, again, there is this difference in intention, in temperament. The pleasures offered by the sublime were painful ones, masochistic. In experiencing the vastness of nature and the awesome structures proposed by Boullee and others as paraphrases of the universe, man was to recognize his helplessness and loneliness before eternity and feel in his bones the falsity of the dignities and rights in which he had sought to clothe himself.

If there was in Dalwood an honest urge to astound the world (“I always thought I would do some famous thing”), there was also the countermanding action of his realism and wit. The sculptures he began, abandoned and destroyed between 1964 and 1966 were to have been grandiloquent things as well as formally very challenging ones, sculpture that took possession of the space in which it stood by making aggressive use of (i.e. depending upon) walls, ceiling and floor and imposing itself upon the spectator. (A later sculpture, which he also came to dislike, Cantilever, was made in 1970 and stuck out from the wall like a section of aircraft wing). The rhetoric he was then toying with, and had the intelligence to reject, was close to that welcomed by New York in 1966 in the larger and more theatrical pieces for a time referred to as Primary Structures. There was in Dalwood, as there is in many of us, a streak of Lear (“I shall do such things…”), but it was countered by another tendency, towards brevity and concision. I have already spoken of his architectural sculptures as transformations of objects and experiences belonging to the world “out there” into objects and experiences of a more personal and private sort. Where Dalwood’s public sculptures were concerned, his first concern was always with scale, and whenever this public sculpture had to exist in relation to real architecture, as it did in almost every case, its role was first of all to mediate between the building and ourselves. It is characteristic of our age that it is the public buildings that become occasions for sculpture, or at least those building that house not people so much as abstractions representing mass humanity. Dalwood would use his sculpture on these occasions to attempt a reconciliation between the building and its anti-human implications with man’s innate needs. In other words, he would conceive his sculpture as an anti-sublime statement, conferring back on man the relevance modern megalomania robs him of. Corporate clients, alas, tend to corporation sized dreams. Dalwood had no compunction about adapting or changing his sculptural idiom to cope with the exigencies of a site – it was no part of his business to insist that every public sculpture he made should proclaim “Dalwood” or serve as “a monument to modern art when there are things that need to be done” – but he was not prepared to go against his reading of what was needed in order to fall in with the declamatory intentions of some tycoon.[8] Scale came first. Where he was able to, as in the schemes he worked on with Hancock and Irving, he would influence the articulation of the building and of its setting for the sake of the greatest possible ease and delight. With his growing interest in Japanese architecture and gardens his judgment in these respects became ever finer and his mode more understated and cool.

All in all, his sculpture is high-spirited. This distances people who look to art for easy emotionalism and dramatics. A few of his sculptures, as we saw, incorporate a response to a particular political fact; in addition, some of the early figures can be held to imply emotional tensions though I believe their distortions and striations relate much more certainly to formal explorations and thus to the figure as a complex mass and to its surface as a landscape of creases and swellings, planes and projections, rather than to any desire to express personal malaise or the general “human condition”. In this sense he was not a Romantic (though there is no true reason why Romantic art should be associated exclusively with tragedy or plangent emotions). The words he tended to use, in talking about the experiences and events that mattered to him, to fit his work better than any one is likely to find oneself. Things are to him “interesting”, “fascinating”, “marvellous”; he is “intrigued” by a problem, “admires” the way a building connects with its ground. Making art out of interest or admiration of some- thing seen – and that mostly not a unique, once-and-for-all phenomenon but something shareable and comprehensible – may sound a modest ambition but was Dalwood’s way of meeting the greatest challenge of all: how to be fully an artist, meeting the intellectual and aesthetic demands that properly understood membership of that profession brings with it, and at the same time produce works of art that are not obscure, nor enervating, but offer us ready access by means of the shareable experiences incorporated in them and their positive hold on the world.


Eric Newton, “Two Artists from Universities – and an Eclectic”, The Guardian, 4 February 1957

Eric Newton, “A Symposium of Youth”, The Listener, 4 February 1957

Julian Hall, “Sculpture by Hubert Dalwood”, Truth, 8 February 1957

Oswell Blakeston, “Apparitions and First Appearances”, Art News aud Review, February 1957

(Critics’ Choice)

T.C., “Hubert Dalwood”, Architectural Design, April 1957

Eric Newton, “The Problem of the Style Barrier”, The Guardian, January 1960

Norbert Lynton, “The Sculpture of Hubert Dalwood”, Art News an d Review, 16 January 1960

Art Critic, “Sculptor Who Matters”, The Times, 27 January 1960

M. G. McNay, “Gregory Fellows Exhibition”, The Guardian, March 1960

Kenneth Garlick, “Fellowships in the Fine Arts”, Manchester Guardian, 14 April 1960

Norbert Lynton, “The Sculpture of Hubert Dalwood”, Cimaise Year 10, No. 63, January- February 1963

Norbert Lynton, “London Letter”, Art International viii/9, November 1964

Eugen Thiemann, “Hubert Dalwood”, Das Kunstwerk 8/vii, February 1964

Norbert Lynton, “Hubert Dalwood”, Sculpture International i/2, 1966

Edward Lucie-Smith, “London”, Studio International 174/892, September 1967

Norbert Lynton, “London Letter”, Art International xi/8, October 1967

“Toronto’s International Sculpture Symposium”, Art in America 56/1, January-February 1968

“A Sculpture for Wolverhampton”, Studio International 178/916, November 1969

Norbert Lynton, “An End to Visual Muzak”, The Guardian, 17 February 1970

Catalogue of “Eleven Sculptors One Decade” exhibition (Arts Council) with introduction and statement by Hubert Dalwood, 1972

Catherine Lampert, “New Work” (Otera), Studio International, September 1973

Hubert Dalwood, review of Kenneth Armitage exhibition, Studio International 186/960, November 1973

William Packer, “London”, Art an d Artists 8/n, February 1974

Nigel Gosling, “Village Greenery”, Observer Review, 22 May 1977

[1] This quotation and many that follow (all that are not otherwise ascribed) are taken from a conversation between Dalwood and his close friend John Jones, recorded in 1967 but as yet unpublished. I am very much indebted to John Jones for allowing me to make free use of this valuable material.

[2] Statements in P. Selz, New Images of Man, New York 1959, and A. Ritchie, The New Decade, New York 1955, respectively. See also N. Lynton, Kenneth Armitage, London 1962. When the Arts Council presented a touring exhibition of Kenneth Armitage’s work Dalwood reviewed it for Studio International (November 1973) in terms that are relevant to his own as well as apt for Armitage’s: “A good deal of sculpture takes itself so seriously that pomposity and pathos are just around the corner. But Armitage’s work, particularly the early work and his most recent pieces, are around another corner. Round this corner, people and things and odd circumstances arc examined with curiosity and affection.” One characteristic of this “out-of-school world” of sculpture was its lack of didacticism; this he felt, tend to draw attention away from ‘the solid sculptural qualities of the work.

[3] In 1972 Dalwood emphasized the earlier influence on him of the poetry of Tom Blackburn, Gregory Fellow in Poetry at Leeds University during the time of Dalwood’s residence in Leeds. See his statement in the catalogue of the “Eleven Sculptors One Decade” exhibition.

[4] The Turnbulls that most resemble Large Object were done in 1960, especially Head, and 1961.1 mention this only because it has been said that Large Object was a variant on Turnbull’s sculpture. Even if the dates were otherwise, the difference in form and essential character between the two sculptor’s ovoid pieces would still be more important than their superficial similarity. Turnbull’s are the more apparently primeval in that they are plainer and more basic in form. They seem found rather than made, and of course they owe their inspiration as much to Brancusi as to actual primitive art, which Dalwood’s Large Object and other “archetypal” pieces do not. See photographs of Turnbull’s work, and a statement significantly entitled “Images without Temples”, in Living Arts No. I, 1963

[5] From Dalwood’s introduction to the catalogue of the first “Art into Landscape” exhibition 1974. He proposed this exhibition during his period as chairman of the small committee supervising the Serpentine Gallery s programme of exhibitions. It was a great success and led not only to further competitions and exhibitions on the same theme – proposals for the development of open spaces from professionals and laypeople, including children – but also to some schemes being realized.

[6] This and the next three quotations come from Dalwood’s introduction and statement in the catalogue of the “Eleven Sculptors One Decade” exhibition, 1972. He had been asked by the Arts Council to purchase sculpture during 1971-7 and to devise an exhibition in which these works could be shown. His idea was to show the recent work alongside an earlier piece borrowed from each sculptor and to invite from each contributor a statement on the changes that had taken place. As is usual in artist-planned exhibitions, the Arts Council asked Dalwood to participate in it. He showed the recent landscape sculpture Oconomowoc II (1970) and OAS Assassin (1962). The exhibition opened at the Serpentine Gallery and then toured the country.

[7] Dalwood spoke to John Jones of sculpture as a means of surprise- a pleasurable surprise, not one of shock- and the columnar piece he set up in Hyde Park, Toronto, must have come as close as circumstances permitted to realizing a work of this kind. In conversation with me he spoke of the Acropolis and of traditional Mediterranean towns as sculptures for walking through (January 26, 1970).

[8] Quotations from the conversation of January 26 1970.

I was party to an abortive sequence of approaches and negotiations between the board of Guardian Newspapers and Dalwood over a sculpture to be set up outside the new Guardian offices in Manchester. At the time I was the paper’s art critic in London, and was asked by the chairman of the board to propose some likely sculptors and to participate in discussions. It seemed as though Dalwood was likely to receive the commission, having been chosen by the chairman in looking through a mass of photographs and information I had supplied. There were two or three meetings between the chairman and Dalwood, in my presence, and there seemed to be no major obstacle except that the chairman, a polite and diplomatic person of very substantial education, gradually introduced and increasingly emphasized a conception he had for what the sculpture should represent. “The pen is mightier than the sword” turned out to be the essence of it. Even this did not deter Dalwood who emphasized that he would have to look closely at the site and then consider to what degree, and in what way, the sculpture the site appeared to him to demand could incorporate an image carrying that theme. It was agreed that Dalwood would soon be asked up to Manchester (the building being in progress). There was then a long silence, after which I was told that the commission had gone to a local sculptor- who, I presume, knew better than Dalwood how to receive such suggestions. Apart from my personal disappointment, for the newspaper’s sake as well as Dalwood’s but also for my sake, having invested a lot of time in this as well as patience (although I had been writing for The Guardian for some years the chairman thought it best to check with Sir Norman Reid of the Tate Gallery as to my suitability as adviser for the project), my chief recollection of my response to this failure related to the manner of it: Dalwood was dropped, by a man whose bearing and reputation made it quite clear that he would behave with courtesy and even grace towards a professional in any other profession.