Regarded as one of the UK’s foremost sculptors, Wilding’s abstract works use contrasting materials such as neoprene rubber, translucent acrylic, alabaster and steel to create sensual juxtapositions which explore the complexities of perception.
The exhibition responds to the landscape that surrounds the Pavilion and light that streams into it, showing a selection of works from the 1980s to the present and two new sculptures made especially for the site.
The exhibition is curated by Rosie Cooper, Head of Exhibitions at the De La Warr Pavilion, who says: “The sculptures give off a sense of time and space crumpled, a collapse that pushes us into the present, directly. Ancient and modern materials collide, drawing out streams of consciousness.”
It begins in the ground floor gallery, a space characterised by a huge window out to sea. Through it, a new work can be seen outside: Docking, a pair of large lozenge shapes made from cast concrete, their sharp lines echoing the spaceship-like qualities of the Pavilion itself.
Light is an important and active character in the exhibition. Translucent elements in sculptures such as Red Skies (1992) and Drowned (1993) are activated by it, their centres glowing and then darkening again throughout the day, a contrast with the continual incandescence of Floodlight (2001). Together, these works form constellations across the gallery, with other works inhabiting shadows, or creating them.
By combining ancient and modern materials, Wilding’s sculptures create conversations across time and space, producing new experiences in the present. Dark Horse (1983) is the most identifiably figurative work in the exhibition: resting on the floor, it comprises a flat, black neoprene shape that loosely resembles an animal skin, a stone object that might be its head placed on top. Nearby, Locust (1983) resembles a shoot growing out of the floor: some form of nature invades the space, but the title given it alludes to a sense of menace.
Further works such as Tablet (2009), a series of cast plaster tablets, appear to ooze a dark substance which is, in fact, cast bronze. in fact, the suspect material is cast bronze. In Wilding’s hands, materials appear seem unstable, shifting shape and form, creating a series of subtle illusions.