Sean Scully: Wall Dale Cubed

Although Scully is acknowledged as one of the most important international abstract painters working today, in recent years he has made large-scale sculpture. The artist created experimental three-dimensional work in the 1970s whilst studying on a scholarship at Harvard University, but didn’t return to this aspect of his practice for another thirty years. His sculptures are extensions of his paintings, with lines, stripes and grids dominant throughout. Raised in an economically deprived South London household, Scully recalls being a darner of socks for the family, and considers that the weft and weave of this early experience informed the development of his grid-like painting and sculpture.


This monumental work takes inspiration from the series of paintings Wall of Light, which he began in the 1990s. Made for YSP, Wall Dale Cubed uses 1000 tonnes of Yorkshire stone from a local quarry and was constructed over many weeks. Importantly to the artist, this colossal work is built in the same way throughout, which connects to ancient stone walls in Ireland, so that ‘when looking at the outside of the block, one can feel the inside without being able to see it’.

Another ambitious work by Scully is Crate of Air in Country Park. Contrasting with the solidity of Wall Dale Cubed, this welded steel sculpture is constructed of ‘boxes of air’ that form their own frames to the landscape.

"When you look at a tree, you are looking at the outside knowing the inside. When you look at a rock or the sea, you look at the outside knowing the inside. Seeing and knowing are involved in this work, in what it is. And if some of it, is taken away, it will still be what it is."

- Sean Scully