United Enemies? Rethinking Sculpture in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s

6th March 2009
Seminar Room
Henry Moore Institute

Containers: The Hardware of Life

Carl Plackman c. 1974

6th March 2009

Returning to the sculpture made between the mid-1960s to late-1970s in Britain, it can be tempting to chart a schematic landscape of doctrines, contests and rivalries, ‘A’ courses and ‘B’ courses and a ‘sculpture community populated by artists’ who were either makers or thinkers, either practice-based or theory-based. Whilst there is much to this division in institutional terms, separating sculptors into those who use their hands and those who use their heads will always be a caricature that erases the complexities and subtleties of individual practices and closes down their possibilities. Attitudes to sculpture can be dextrous as well as thoughtful, and require manual as well as intellectual labour. This conference aims to get retrospective information and insight in this complicated landscape of rivalries and oppositions, looking for interconnections and shared ideas as much as at specifically contested questions and issues.

The conference aims to explore the period at various levels: by looking at individual practices, collaborations and groups, the role played by schools, colleges and sculpture curricula, the influence of specific authors, magazines and books and of certain galleries and museums and at particular exhibitions, such as When Attitudes Become Form, British Sculptors ’72, selected by Bryan Kneale at the Royal Academy, Tucker’s The Condition of Sculpture at the Hayward, and the 1977 Battersea Park exhibition. The conference aims to discuss and debate commonalties as much as differences, and open up discussion of various types of sculpture and sculptural thinking of this period in new and surprising ways.

Speakers include Nicholas Pope, David Dye, Jo Melvin, Barry Martin, Victoria Worsley and Roelof Louw as well as Peter Bowyer and William Cobbing taking part as respondents.

The conference will run from 10am - 6pm in the institute Seminar Room. This event is free of charge but it is necessary to book a place as seats are limited. To do so please contact Kirstie Gregory,, 0113 246 7467.