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Edward Allington: Things Unsaid

Edward Allington: Things Unsaid
Dates and times

25 Oct 2019 - 19 Jan 2020

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Henry Moore Institute

74 The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AH

Seeking new ways of ‘moving and matching the complexity of the world’, Edward Allington (1951-2017) was part of a generation of artists responding to changing aesthetic, social and cultural values at the end of the 1970s.

“Sculpture is looking at real things by making real things. It is making poetry with solid objects.”

Edward Allington, 1997.

A sculptor, writer and educator, Allington came to prominence following the group exhibitions Objects and Sculpture (1981, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and Arnolfini, Bristol) and The Sculpture Show (1983, the Hayward Gallery and Serpentine Gallery). Like many of his contemporaries – Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Shirazeh Houshiary, Richard Wentworth, and Bill Woodrow to name a few – Allington was working in response to the belief that minimal and conceptual practices were losing their charge.

Allington was fascinated by the presence of classical forms in everyday life; be they restored fragments displayed in museums, reconstructions of Classical Greek sites, or kitsch reproductions of antiquity. Ideal Standard Forms, 1980 (Tate), speaks to this key concern with the artificial construction of culture. Arranged on the floor in a roughly square format, nine geometric objects – including a sphere, a cone, a cube, an ellipsoid – reveal Allington’s enduring interest in questions around authenticity and imitation. Hand-made in plaster, the sculptures are universal, ideal forms; yet they are inevitably imperfect manifestations that combine the effort of idealisation with the language of mass production.

The title of the exhibition, Things Unsaid, is taken directly from a drawing by the artist, reminding us that we often know more than can be spoken. Moreover, it encapsulates Allington’s feelings on the relationship between sense, perception, and objects that we physically experience and touch.

This exhibition is guest curated by Judith Winter (Curator, Writer and Lecturer, Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen) in association with Thalia Allington-Wood (Estate of the artist).

About the artist
Edward Allington was born in Cumbria, and lived and worked in London. He studied at Lancaster College of Art (1968-71), Central School of Art and Design (1971-74) and at the Royal College of Art (1983-84).

He taught at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, from (1990-2017), becoming its Head of Graduate Sculpture in 2000 and Professor of Sculpture in 2006. In 2015 he was awarded an AHRC Network Grant for his project Modern Japanese Sculpture, a collaborative research network with the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, and Musashino Arts University, Tokyo.

Allington’s work is represented in major collections, including The Arts Council Collection, Tate, Leeds Museums and Galleries, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the British Museum; he was also commissioned to create notable public sculpture in the UK, Germany and France. Things Unsaid presents a selection of archival material relating to the artist's writings, sculptural process and works conceived beyond the gallery.

Allington was also a well-regarded writer. His approach to writing, like his approach to sculpture, was a discursive practice, and over his career he contributed a number of notable texts for Friezemagazine, including 'Labours of Love: True Confessions of a Spare Parts Freak' and 'Dream Machines'. He wrote catalogue essays for major shows at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (Ed and Nancy Kienholz), and Tate Modern (Katharina Fritsch). In 1993 he published a series of polemic essays entitled: 'Method for Sorting Cows' that support the notion of sculptural pluralism and multiple readings within the discipline.

Image Info: Edward Allington, Things Unsaid, 1990. Courtesy Leeds Museums & Galleries (Leeds Art Gallery)

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