The James Gleeson oral history collection
James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists | SUBSCRIBE TO iTUNES PODCAST
Temple gate 1976-77
painted steel and aluminium
477.0 x 238.0 x 238.0 cm
18 October 1979 [unknown location]
James Gleeson: Inge, can we begin with probably the most important of your works that we have in the Australian National Gallery at the moment, and that is Temple gate. I notice on the card, it’s painted metal, that is steel and aluminium, and we acquired it in 1977 from Realities Gallery in Melbourne. That was an important show of yours. I remember quite a few of the works from that collection. Can you tell me how you came to work up to Temple gate?
Inge King: Well, one of my aims in sculpture or in working in steel is movement. I have used movement in various ways, but in recent years I had a particular interest to use movement that is suspended in some fashion or other or, as I often call it, I like to make them fly. It’s often technically a very difficult problem because, well, what might be quite all right even in a small model, could be immediate difficulty to build on a large scale. Another thing too that’s important, over quite a period I have worked either with circular shapes or with type of discs. The first circular shape that I used was The black sun, that’s in Canberra too and I think we talk about that later. Then the next one was Planetwhich is now in Brisbane. Then I worked with pipe shapes—no, with circular shapes like an echo. That was in Realities too. Temple gate was the final one. There my main aim was really to have this movement of flight, and the supports of course are part of the sculpture. Another aspect of it is it’s very important that people can walk through it. Because since about 1972, I sort of got very interested in spectator participation and that is of great importance to me; to involve the spectator, to rouse his curiosity, if you like, and it is an interest, but it has to work. I mean, my first thought in sculpture is form in sculpture, but these are other aspects of it.
James Gleeson: Inge, correct me if I’m wrong, but my reaction to a work like Temple gate is that there is a strong element of paradox or ambiguity in it. That these great discs seem to float in space, to hover as it were. This visual ambiguity, is this part of your conscious—
Inge King: Yes, very important. Grahame always quoted my work as anti-engineering. Which is quite true. But I think this paradox or ambiguity or paradoxical visual effect I think is very important. Then they live from me. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. But I think this is quite important.
James Gleeson: Now, there is a maquette which I’ve just seen for this work. Is your normal method to work from a maquette to a large scale?
Inge King: Yes, the reason why I do it is, when I first worked in steel I worked directly on a large scale. But not only that I found it was too slow, but I find with a maquette I can work very fast, and get my thoughts down in a spontaneous and a direct manner, I can get completely involved. While in a large one, there are so many technical problems that you have to consider to start with, that this spontaneity and even the ambiguity I just couldn’t achieve that way.
James Gleeson: I see.
Inge King: But even I do small sculptures. I don’t always call them maquettes, because sometimes I might have them with me for six months or a year before I decide whether they will enlarge, or not. It’s not a technical question, it’s just a question whether they will work on a larger scale and look better, because I’m not concerned just to produce large sculptures. With some of them I feel they’re completed in the size, you know, of the existent. That’s it.