Film ID:
YFA 1000

AUSTIN WRIGHT, SCULPTOR - THE SECRET MIDDLE

c.1970

Visitor Tabs

Description

This film features the artwork of acclaimed sculptor Austin Wright and gives a fascinating insight into the methods and inspiration behind some of his most recognizable pieces.  The film highlights the evolution of Wright's style as well as his use of different raw materials to produce sculptures which act as analogies to elements in nature and even anatomy that have inspired him and his work.  The film also features rare images of the sculptor at work in his back shed creating and arranging various pieces for display. 

The film opens with the following titles:
Distributed by Concord Film Council
This film was made with the assistance of the Yorkshire Arts Association
A Yorkshire Arts Association Film

The film begins with a small town square while the narration explains a bit about the village, for instance how the water used to originally come from a village pump.

Title - Austin Wright, Sculptor

At the Wright Cottage, the large garden is decorated with many original sculptures by the artist.  They have been carefully arranged to reflect their inspiration, usually found within different elements in the natural world. 

Title - The Secret Middle

Wright walks around the garden tidying up some fallen branches along the way.  He explains some of the art in the garden, and there are close ups of different pieces on display.

Inside his workspace, there are tools hanging on the walls, and crude woodwork support beams hold the structure in place.  The workspace used to be a stable, and Wright has kept much of the tools from its previous use as inspiration. 

Wright's first pieces were carved from blocks of wood received from a wheelwright he met.  He shows and explains the different designs of his wood carvings.  The Secret Middle arises from those shapes created by working logs of wood.  Wright equates the image to the feeling of being wrapped in a big coat facing the cold; the centre the tree grows; the inner warmth of the body.

There working and casting lead, Wright explains how the inspiration for these human-like figures came from watching people getting together to line up for the bus and the space leftover and in between the units within this group.  The film shows early idea sketches as well as Wright arranging pieces pushing the boundaries to see how far the figures can be from each other and still feel like part of the same group. 

The next scene begins with a shot of people sitting along the beach and walking along the coastline.  This is followed with an emphasis of images related to the natural rock formations along the coastline as well as the contrast of textures between the sand and the sea.  According to Wright, there was a former rigidity to his work of wood carvings and iron castings.  He had moved away from looking at people and moved onto natural object such as rocks, examining the texture of different surfaces.  The next material he uses to create his sculptures is plaster.  He explains it sets a fluidity as well as allows the artist to explore the different textures represented in nature. 

Moving onto the next material which the artist uses, images of pouring metal are intercut with the sea.  There also more images of the things in nature which inspired Wright intercut with the finished pieces of art in his workshop and in his garden.

Now seated at the kitchen table with his wife, Wright discusses the contact between two forms, specifically in terms of welding, and how moment of contact is of the utmost importance.  Wright can then be seen welding in his workshop constructing more sculptures.  Welding and that point of contact play a huge role in his next set of creations during which he examines how in different aspects those points of contact can be either seen or unseen and how that affects the overall appearance and meaning of the sculpture.   

Sitting in a room playing solitaire, Wright speaks about his interest in plants, plant forms, and the materials they provide.  The tree element has contributed greatly to his artwork.  Wright then takes that to the next level, and in a bit of a departure, examines elements of anatomy and the human body including the way in which he believes the ring is a key form in both plants and animals.  Back in his workshop, and now using aluminium due to its affordability as well as its artistic characteristics, Wright can be seen shearing, carving, and working the aluminium into ring structures. 

As commercial building materials became more readily available, Wright's work evolves.  He begins to use metal rods and beams to create taller, linked structures.  He can be seen in his workshop working on these different elements as well as assembling them outside in the garden.  Most of the sculptures are specifically placed in the garden near natural images which have inspired their creation. 

Wright describes the happiness his work gives him, and as such, he does not believe he could give it up.  Forms repeat themselves in his artwork and act as analogies which lead back to things one recognizes providing memories.  The film closes with a final look at many of the sculptures which Wright has created during his time as a sculptor. 

Title - Grateful thank you to the following for their advice and assistance:
Jim Hawkings
Liveseys of Hull, Photographic
John Valentine Photography, Hull
Hull University Botany Department
Albert Cool Metal Foundry, Hull
Norman Green, Cottingham
Max Alexander

Title - Sound:  Jim Hawkings
 Camera:  Harry Duffin
 Producer and Director:  Harry Duffin