'Monuments to the period we live in'

Craig Richardson
John Latham talks series
27th April 2016
Henry Moore Institute Seminar Room, 6pm

John Latham
Polystyrene foam and books, plastic tubes, metal pipes

© The John Latham Foundation
Courtesy Lisson Gallery

In 1976 John Latham (1921-2006) undertook a placement at the Scottish Office, as a part of the Artist Placement Group (APG) project. Set up by Barbara Steveni in 1966, APG set out to persuade industrialists to take artists into corporations to observe and develop alternative ways of thinking.

Latham proposed to redesignate monumental 'bings' (heaps of coal waste and red shale) as public sculptures, as can be seen in three works in our current exhibition A Lesson in Sculpture with John Latham. In this lecture Craig Richardson discusses these 'monuments to the period we live in', as Latham himself described them. The bings were initially produced by the voluminous waste by-product of early energy production industries in Scotland. Richards explains why Latham's reimagination of these sites as 'monumental process sculptures' have such resonance today. He considers their methodological context and their future conservation as sculptural monuments, noting how their continued recognition in the art world is increasingly dependent upon their assessment as 'hotspots' of biodiversity.

Craig Richardson is Professor of Fine Art at The University of Huddersfield. An artist and writer, he has published widely with Tate, Visual Culture in Britain, the Journal of Visual Art Practice and is the author of Scottish Art since 1960 (Ashgate, 2011).

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