The Why?s Man

"My art is place specific and people specific." George Wyllie

Back to Words from George...


...and why is Scul?ture Jubilee? - to mark the last 25 years? - or the first 25 years?

No matter, Another Opening, Another Show.

The question-mark, hereafter economically depicted as its simple visual self...'?', has its own visual poetry. Its calligraphic roundness suggests that it had aspirations to become a spiral but changed its mind and deviated into the buffers of a full stop. It could be someone's life story.

The starting date for the Jubilee was 1965 but I'm saying it was 1966 to make it exactly 25 years until 1991, and so I harmlessly demonstrate the value of telling a lie. The pursuit of the '?' has taught me that truth does not predominate to anything like the extent we are apt to believe. To detect a lie (and I encourage this), hold a '?', like a forked hazel twig, and it will quiver undeniably when there is a major shift of the goal posts of truth. A vibrating '?' has the devious capability to accept or reject 'truth' when it changes, is changed, when it is concealed, and, aha! - when it is impersonated.

In the mid-sixties I went to an art class, in sun-kissed Gourock because I needed to paint a real oil painting for above the mantelpiece. I began to look at exhibitions and saw some Italian metal sculpture and thought I could do that. Ten years later I founded the Scul?ture movement. I substituted the '?' for the 'p' in sculpture because I wasn't sure if I was making sculpture. Nowadays the '?' is not at all tentative but bang at the centre of everything. I don't know if Scul?ture can ever be sculpture, but if you're not worried about ambiguity, then neither am I. Some say it is essential.

The '?' is strangely like a periscope if not convincing visually, it certainly is in function. It is a diffused instrument of enquiry with a simplicity not understood by drowning intellects. The '?' is also a boat-hook for hauling struggling swimmers on board. Resuscitated, they will see that art and life can be in love.

Even an abbreviated spiral can be the totem of the random. Is the '?' left-hand or right-hand, in or out, up or down, or this side or that - or both sides? Used as a happy compass it can be precessed for every direction and no direction like a wobbling bicycle - a fine way to spiral, and no need to pedal hard and arrive out of puff at the subject matter. It's a simple balancing act between humanity, science and the plant - that is, you, a bike, and a dust road-circling in air and all settled on the Planet of gravity. Here are such equilibrists... Jarry the pataphyscian, Arp the Sage, Miro Gentle Subversive, Merz and the Snail, Tornado-Neagu. Demarco the Wanderer, Beuys the shaman and Rimbaud, Captain of the 'Drunken Boat'. Jarry was the one with the bike.

Bearings are important even on a random voyage, the 'Spire'. The ultimate Scul?ture, marks a happy landfall. Seduced by the planet, the 'Spire' flexes, becomes alive, and celebrates the space on which it stands.

Such voyages are in the company of shipmates, but they need not have even been to sea. An understanding of the Being of this planet is the simple but elusive requirement. It is not easy to generate the passion to believe this, for there is a current embarrassment over unashamed release of human spirit. The first two stages of Scut?ture, the tentative and the inquisitive, are now confidently overlaid by random diffusion, the clarity of ambiguity giving it meaning as shadow can define light. Pataphysicians know that absurdity can be probed to such excesses that meaning can finally be wrested from it. The art is to tightly grip the walking-stick handle of a '?', take aim, then prod.

Awareness demands at least the contemplation of action. Scul?ture has held up its own '?' to itself for a brief twenty-five years. There is danger in logical conclusions, for the intuitive and the random can be excluded. But an excess of spiralling energy without some wresting of meaning can be humanly and artistically irresponsible - stupid! ... "Kasper is dead", bemoans Jean Arp in his Lord's prayer of Surrealism and asks "who will interpret the monograms in the stars for us?" Arp's exhortation on the necessity of understanding absurdity also reminds us that a "death's head" awaited us for defaulting. The essential validity of exercises in the absurd is that we can recognise absurdity when it poses as sense.

The wresting of meaning from such contradictions benefits from the peace of wilderness and the vital charge of its latent energy. In Scotland we are blessed with the soft bounce of primeval moor, the white light of stones, and weather and sea. Spirit is alive and free in the movement of clear air. It is a place for Being. For me, it is the centre of a continuity of question-marks spiralling towards this Scul?ture Jubilee. It is where the 'Spire' has indicated a positive polarity for celebration of our Being on our planet, and where energy is generated for criticism of all that is negative to that notion.

I'm asking - are you dancing... and now you know where is, in Scul?ture, a.......... '?'

George Wyllie, 1991

Scul?ture Jubilee, 1966-1991 (Third Eye)

George Wyllie Education Initiative

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