It is certainly a good sign when a sculpture is huggable.
It has a sense of mass and form.
In this episode of Cultural Icons, Doctor Mark Stocker, Associate Professor in Art History at the University of Otago, interviews sculptor Terry Stringer. The pair discuss Terry’s work via three pieces which represent very distinct veins in the sculptor’s oeuvre.
Terry discusses a quirky painted plywood piece titled “Wiping that Smile Off” (1977) which was born from the artist’s reflection on Victorian parlour toys (puzzles, pictures books, and paper card tricks). He delves into the various readings one can get from a medallion with a subtle biblical allusion he made to commemorate the new millennium. This tactile show-and-tell finishes with a more recent piece, a totem-pole-like object collaging a female figure and which, in a way, exemplifies some of the larger figurative works Terry Stringer has become best known for.
Through these very different sculptures and the explanations of Terry’s practice we discover an artist concerned with ideas and wishing to solve them through what he calls “the four dimensions” of sculpture (“time” being the fourth one).
With disarming humility, he delves into his preference for being outside of “fashions and schools” of art practice, yet he is respectful and admiring of abstraction, the primitivist sculptures of tribal peoples, the simplicity of Japanese objects, and also recognizes the influence that locals such as Greer Twiss and Llew Summers, and, of course, himself have had in the ongoing sculptural exploration of New Zealand’s vernacular.