Sunday, 1 April 2012



 Oxford Street is in distress. Roadworks are making bits of roads and pavements out of bounds to pedestrians. It’s a hot, noisy, sunny day in March and there are so many of us that it’s a problem to find a space for the next footstep. Instead turn down quiet and empty Dering Street to the Annely Juda gallery, push open the glass double doors and take the lift to the 3rd floor.  Step out and take a moment to puzzle out where the gallery door is. You spy a small handle in the white wall…

Inside is a magic space. Breathe in the calm and the light. It’s as if the artworks have subtly transformed the space they inhabit. I was told that the exhibition was curated and hung by the artist himself. Rippling across the walls are beautifully crafted sculptures, small scale, quiet and strong.  The image above shows a work which consists of 14 pieces and the overall mesurement is a mere 15.5 x 32 x 1.5cm.
Ackling belongs to a generation of artists who decided in the 60s that art could be anything they wanted it to be: in his case it is wood marked by the sun. He collects found objects such as driftwood,  clothes pegs, picture frames and transforms them by burning them with sunlight through a hand-held magnifying glass.  It is ‘an intense and meditative process: each mark, like a tiny sun, measuring the existence of a ray of light on its passage to earth from a source millions of miles away’.
The image on the right (45.5 x 30.5 x 4.3cm) may look like an abstract painting not a sculpture. It is of course wood burned by sunlight. And, unlike a painting, it does not hang flat against the wall. Which means that the sun plays its part for the second time in the here and now in the studio, creating shadows which gently move round in their own time.

‘Ackling’s work releases a renewed awareness of the small, the silent, the marginal, the overlooked’.  


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