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Edward Allington: From the Sex of Metals III and From the Sex of Metals IV

Formal Garden

‘Sculpture is looking at real things by making real things. It is making poetry with solid objects.’

Edward Allington

Edward Allington made a series of four sculptures called From the Sex of Metals in response to a question from art critic Stuart Morgan as to what sex his sculptures were to be read as. The artist was unable to answer satisfactorily, and so began these works as a way to explore the question further, asking “to what strange gender does steel belong or bronze, and what is sex but the most extraordinary and elaborate mechanism for filtering fluids?”

From the Sex of Metals III and From the Sex of Metals IV (1990) reference Allington’s characteristic style where he borrows from classical architecture, while the rusty Corten steel conveys a sense of industry and manufacture. In this particular use of steel, Allington explores ideas of (mass) production and reproduction through the theme of fluidity – metal that seems so hard and inflexible in its final form but which in fact has been molten and shaped. Allington was noted for combining classical forms, architectural fragments and historic artefacts with pared down minimalism, bringing together two radically different styles in order to investigate both. These contrasting elements might suggest that there is no single or fixed definition for the gender of his sculptural forms.
A key member of the New Sculpture movement that was a fundamental part of British sculpture in the 1980s, and included fellow sculptors such as Alison Wilding, Tony Cragg and Antony Gormley, Allington was known for working with traditional materials and methods, such as carving in stone and casting metal, and using imagery which alluded to classical metaphors.
Edward Allington was born in Westmorland in 1951 and lived most of his life in London, where he was Professor and Head of Graduate Sculpture at Slade School of Fine Art until his death in 2017.
His work can be found in major institutions such as Tate, Victoria & Albert Museum, and the British Museum. This sculpture formed part of a solo exhibition entitled Pictured Bronzes held in the Pavilion Gallery and open air at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1997. 

YSP Collection. Accepted by HM Government in Lieu of Inheritance Tax from the estate of Edward Allington and allocated to YSP, 2021