Angle of repose

There is a scientific principle known as the ‘Angle of Repose’ which applies to the angle at which substances come to rest when poured onto another surface. The word ‘repose’ reflects the pivotal theme in this body of work. Conical and triangular shapes appear in the technical drawings, structures and in the heaps of poured substances. They are vehicles of meaning which represent stability and a human quest for equilibrium.

Controlling structures consist of hard, rigid, intolerant materials such as cement, iron, wire and wood. With this equipment one can excavate, dredge, sieve, redistribute and funnel flowing substances such as salt, sugar, sand and oxide. The viewer is invited to participate in these actions and in so doing to contemplate the dichotomies between ‘repressive and free’; ‘rational and intuitive’; ‘pragmatic and romantic’ and ‘social and personal’. These loose substances show that the reposeful state is never static and emphasise the state of flux which entails a continual reassessing, adapting and reorganising; especially during the upheaval caused by dramatic and traumatic change. Such participation implies external intervention in life. Human activities of destruction and re-construction are inherent in attempts to create order out of chaos. Death, war, divorce, come to mind as do the radical political changes in our country, which longs for ‘a state of repose’.

Permutations of meaning are embedded in the symbolic significance of the materials. Metal, cement, wood and glass could represent strength, coldness and restraint but they also corrode, break, crack and rot. Both salt and sugar can be preservatives and enhance flavour; both are corrosive but one represents suffering and the other comfort and happiness. Cinnamon is associated with smells of cooking. It holds connotations of nurturing motherhood and warmth. It also represents sensual femininity and pleasures. The yellow oxide colours and enhances aesthetically, so represents joy and riches.

The series concludes with Fig. 7, using many found objects chosen for the patina of time. It represents a fragile state of temporary equilibrium which hangs in the balance between harmony and chaos; between heavy and light; and between Utopia and Hell. All of these works can and must be read on many levels; personal, social, political and universal.