CURATOR Anthony Bond ORGANISER Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney OTHER VENUES Art Gallery of New South Wales, 10 June–10 July 1997; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 20 September–23 November 1997 SPONSOR British Council PUBLICATION essay Anthony Bond, interview Robert Hopper
Sculptor Tony Cragg is a star. In 1988, he was Britain's representative at the Venice Biennale and won the Turner Prize. Art in America called him the most 'exhibited sculptor of his generation'. Staged at Shed 11, his exhibition is City Gallery's contribution to the 1998 New Zealand Festival of the Arts. Director Paula Savage says, 'We are enormously proud to be showing the work of an artist who has made such a significant contribution to Western art.'
Curator Anthony Bond says, 'Cragg's inventions contain ironic commentaries upon the role of art in the marketplace and on the junk culture that thrived in Thatcher's England. Cragg could transform waste materials into valuable commodities.' Cragg says. 'Nowadays, there is hardly anything that has not been used to make sculpture with, and there are no limits to what sculpture can be.'
Cragg presents imposing and suggestive works made of wax, plaster, rubber, clay, glass, and bronze. Complete Omnivore is a sculpture of oversized molars and pincers—suggesting dinosaur teeth. Minister consists of four conical sculptures built out of cogs and wheels that resemble towers, missiles, and steeples. The wax forms in Administered Landscape suggest teats, babies' dummies, and handles from rubber stamps.
In the Evening Post, Mark Amery writes, 'In each work there's a dialogue between the organic and enginneered, the cultural association and the natural. Works appear to have bubbled up into shape from the ground, or suggest that they were once reognisable objects but have been affected by an energy which has filled them with new poetic potential.'
Cragg attends the opening and gives a talk.
As part of the ad campaign, Saatchi & Saatchi creates a 'mobile billboard'—a van decked out in used plastic bottles like a porcupine's quills. It is inspired by Cragg's use of non-traditional materials such as crockery, steel, plastic, and glass. Communications Manager Sophie Jerram tells the Evening Post, 'people have been falling over the footpaths and laughing, which is really nice. It's a great idea.'