From restored fragments displayed in museums and reconstructions of Classical Greek sites to kitsch reproductions of antiquity, the late, Cumbria-born sculptor, writer and educator, Edward Allington (1951-2017), was fascinated by the presence of classical forms in everyday life. A fascination that grew out of the artist’s enduring interest in Platonic notions of authenticity, originality, imitation and the artificial construction of culture in 1970s Britain – when the age of mass production was first entering full swing and minimal/conceptual practices were considered to be losing their edge. His highly regarded output is shaped by these life-long concerns, united more broadly by an enquiry into the relationship between sense, perception, and objects that we physically experience and touch. Allington firmly believed that as individuals, we often know more than is spoken.
Two years after his death, the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds presents a sizeable restaging of his work, including 14 sculptures, photographic works, preparatory objects, drawings and archival material relating to the artist’s writings (he contributed a number of highly regarded articles on sculpture to Frieze and published a series of polemic essays entitled: ‘Method for Sorting Cows’).
Along with fellow notable contemporaries such as Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Shirazeh Houshiary, Richard Wentworth and Bill Woodrow, Allington is considered to have been part of a sea change in British sculpture from the 1980s onwards as the practice began searching for new ways of “moving and matching the complexity of the world,” (in the artist’s words). As well as including a number of his most important sculptures, however, the exhibition also pays tribute to his ability as a draughtsman, exploring how Allington used the simple craft to create imaginary spaces and impossible compositions that tested the limitations of the real world. Altogether, Things Unsaid should provide an excellent introduction to Allington’s work and a poetic encounter shaped by concerns that span all the way back to Plato himself.