Peter Trevelyan’s pencil lead structure is first a drawing, second a sculpture. Finding the page restrictive, the artist began to build ‘three-dimensional drawings’, models to test out his structures and equations in a physical form. The Light Fantastic presents one of these, a great dome which sits at the end of the gallery, enmeshed in the secondary drawing created by its projected shadow. A series of photograms which document the work’s formation occupy the opposite wall.
The base unit of the structure is the equilateral triangle. The pencil leads are fused into this two-dimensional shape, then into a pyramid form, built up gradually so that the whole surface comprises hundreds of equal size triangles. The triangle is the strongest polygonal shape, and is commonly used in building supports and trusses. Trevelyan acknowledges the long history of its use in structural engineering, mathematics and art contexts, particularly in the investigations of American engineer and thinker Buckminster Fuller, renowned for his geodesic domes.
Trevelyan is interested in structures of this kind, both technically and as social and cultural artifacts. Dome architecture maximises the efficiency of volume to weight relationships, and quantity of material to functional surface area. The potential of this design has repeatedly caught the imaginations of architects and engineers, perhaps most famously Filippo Brunelleschi, Italian architect of the dome for the Duomo of Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore (1436). The same shape features in more everyday technological contexts, in satellite dishes and radio telescopes.
The dome also represents an alternative to conventional architecture, providing the foundation for numerous buildings common to science fantasy and futuristic fiction, and featuring prominently in utopian visions of the future. French philosopher Roland Barthes wrote ‘Architecture is always dream and function’. As a drawing, Trevelyan’s sculpture exists both within and outside of this idea. Essentially fantastical, it re-examines the functionality of light and geometry.
 Roland Barthes, The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies (New York: Hill and Wang, 1979).
The artist would like to thank Tim Larkin, Massey Technician, for his support of this project.
Thursday 21 October 6pm
Screening of Jim Henson movie, The Dark Crystal.
Saturday 30 October 2pm
Peter Trevelyan and Hirschfeld Gallery Curator Abby Cunnane in conversation.