Forest of steles

Wilson, K. 2007. Forest of steles. ICA, London 23 May - 27 Jun 2007

CreatorsWilson, K.

Five coloured totemic sculptural works (up to 4 meters high). Exhibited in a variety of locations, the steles act as standing stones with no instructional message or commemorative edict, allowing for interpretative flexibility. The Steles engage with the contemporary subject of sculpture, whilst simultaneously testing the limits of the social use of


‘Steles’ began with standard metal bars, which were forged, rolled and then rendered in giant form with a PU elastomer coating.

The simple forging processes applied pressure to the hot steel, producing an asymmetrical squeezed effect as well as extruded

‘ears’ at the top, where the original bar corners were. The edges, where the organic and the man-made collide, echo calligraphic

standing stones – hence ‘stele’. Whilst the original steles were produced by carving flat faces across rocks, Wilson’s forging

processes produce a bulge which effects a similar meeting of face and edge. The literal squeeze is reintroduced in Wilson’s

larger pieces with a bevelled zotefoam edge, the overspilling sandwich-filling between two plate steel faces. The elastomer

coating is flexible enough for this squeeze to be still in evidence in the final work, an intimate and surprising point of contact for

anyone brave enough to touch. There is a precise reversal of the normal hierarchical relation between macquette and final work

here – the smaller version in this instance being the ‘truer’ one.

The finished forms are worked up in a factory which usually produces shipping buoys, making for a high visibility object, densely

pigmented, saturated with colour. This process also places the work in conversation with New Generation sculptors of the

sixties, especially with the painted steel works that appeared to promise to be forever freshly painted, forever new. The twist

here is that eventually these stele works will lose their gloss, the pigment will fade and the surface will pit – it will be as if they

gradually turn to stone.


Related outputs

Wilson, K. 2010. Ziggurat. Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery 23 Oct 2010 - 09 Jan 2011

Wilson, K. 2010. Things.

Periodic table
Wilson, K. 2007. Periodic table. Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London.

The gallery socks
Wilson, K. 2007. The gallery socks.

Over under
Sabin, A., West, F. and Wilson, K. 2007. Over under.

Wilson, K. 2005. Galvanised.

The object sculpture
Wilson, K., Rehberger, T. and Tuerlinckx, J. 2002. The object sculpture.

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