If I had seen the maquette of Luke Hart’s Wall before seeing the full-sized version currently showing at the William Benington Gallery, I would have thought the work demanded a wide open space.
In fact, the way that this imposing flexible sculpture filled the gallery was really exciting. You couldn’t stand back to view it but had to edge round it but this was good because it gave visitors a chance to examine the strange rubbery joints which gave it flexibility.
It was clear that it had to have been assembled in situ: it was far too large to go through the door. Apparently building it up like a super sized Meccano took three days. But the construction of the piece as a whole took five months. It involved welding the steel pieces and producing joints by a special injection system which forced rubber into specially created moulds, which somehow left the intriguing gaps and gave the structure a strange organic element.
The booklet that accompanies the exhibition includes a quote by Oscar Wilde from the Picture of Dorian Gray – “all art is useless.” Indeed this is a wall which gives the impression of only just being able to support itself; it does not divide or contain. You could walk round it – or indeed if you were so minded go through it. The point I felt was its precariousness; despite the pull of gravity, it twisted but did not fall.
The gallery owner told me that the whole thing can be purchased for around £30,000 but small parts are available as an edition, a joint in its wooden box. You can even purchase part of it. But I very much hope someone buys the whole thing; it deserves to be kept together. It may be useless – you would have to stop the kids treating it as a climbing frame; it wouldn’t protect you from intruders or keep you warm but it would give you a conversation piece. It could conceivably be mounted outside if it were laquered or the decision were made to let it rust, though I would be concerned how it would be pinned down. The exhibition proves you don’t need a lot of space for it. I reckon it could fit in an even smaller area than the gallery. Just think, you could have your very own wall-room.
Wall is showing at the William Benington Gallery, 20 Arlington Way, London EC1R 1UY until 14 May 2016.