The James Gleeson oral history collection

James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists

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David Wilson

3 November 1979

James Gleeson: The next one that may come to us is Grid I. I think it’s now in the Philip Morris Collection.

David Wilson: Right.

James Gleeson: But, you know, it would be a good idea to talk about it anyway.

David Wilson: Okay.

James Gleeson: That was purchased from the Solander, from a show you had there in ’76.

David Wilson: That’s right, and the sculpture dates from 1976 too.

James Gleeson: Does it?

David Wilson: It was part of a range of small works that I made and it was the first time I really felt happy with small works, the range of little works that I put into that gallery. I’d always found pieces such as pedestal pieces or table pieces a problem given the material. The material is so used to being used in large industrial ways and having obviously so much weight and strength it didn’t seem right somehow having little bibelots hanging around made of the stuff. It was probably the best of the small works that I made then and it started me off on the idea of basing a simple sculptural form on something which I could see outside, like a grid in the road.

James Gleeson: Yes.

David Wilson: Or an air vent in a wall. I made it up in a pretty mechanical sort of way just joining together bits of steel, perhaps the way in which a chap in a factory might do it. With subtle variations, of course, but letting the initial idea, the idea of something that already exists, be a sort of disciplining point. Something that could limit the possibilities for the sculpture. It was also the first sculpture that I made that was a pretty closed sort of form that didn’t address itself so much to its spatial concerns and the movement was held in by the outlines somehow. Yes.

James Gleeson: It was steel?

David Wilson: Yes.

James Gleeson: Painted?

David Wilson: Well, it had a sort of patina on it really, a mixture of varnish and a rust inhibiting paint.

James Gleeson: It’s Grid I, so I take it it was part of a series relating to the same idea?

David Wilson: Yes, that’s right. There are no Grid II’s and III’s though because they didn’t work.

James Gleeson: Oh, I see. So Grid I is actually—

David Wilson: Yes, the only Grid that came out.

James Gleeson: Survived.

David Wilson: Yes.


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