Artist of the Month

April 2019
Margaret Organ

Artist Anne Hardy on the work of Collection artist Margaret Organ, whose work features in Towner Art Gallery’s latest National Partners exhibition, The Weather Garden: Anne Hardy curates the Arts Council Collection.

 

In the late 1970s, Margaret Organ (b. 1946) began to create a unique body of work by layering paper onto shaped wire, making expressive abstract works that occupied both walls and floor. Organ talks about seeking out a soft material that had sympathy with her ideas, unlike the more traditional hard materials that were more common in sculpture at the time, ‘With just one sheet of paper, there is so much potential, more than I ever discovered in anything else‘[1].

In photographs of these works their delicate forms seem to balance precariously in space; leaning against one another, resting against walls, and in corners, in ways that suggest they could collapse at any moment, Organ commented that, ‘I consider the strength of my work to be in its gentle quality. Gentleness in sculpture is invariably far stronger that the aggressive facade of work which has an overt strength’[2].

Organ has said that her works come about through ‘wanting to reach a particular set of relationships’[3] and has spoken about the strong emotional and physical relationship she has with her work, 'Everything seems to be dependent on me, and in the Loop piece it was very much about how wide my arms would stretch, and the height is always to do with my own field of vision, or just my size.’[4]

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Loop 1978/2014 has a powerful sense of touch and making in its physical qualities; the visible layering of paper pieces, the variances in the string as the tautness across the form relaxes into a semi-circle lying on the floor below, and the small part of wire intentionally exposed at the top of the circle that reveals it making.

I had an intuitive reaction to Loop when I first saw it during research for The Weather Garden as it seemed to connect directly to my idea of the exhibition–in which many of the works, including Loop, express sensuality, intimacy, and the agency and possible forms of the body.

I was also delighted to discover an artist whose work I hadn’t known at all before, a fact which is mainly due to the fact that her early works no longer exist (with the exception of Loop, which Organ was able to reconstruct in 2014 for the Arts Council Collection touring exhibition Making It: Sculpture in Britain 1977-1988, and which was subsequently acquired for the Collection). However, images of her work can be found in material held in The Archive for Sculptors Papers at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, examples of which can be found below.
 

 

 

Arts Council Collection: Margaret Organ
Arts Council Collection: Margaret Organ
Arts Council Collection: Margaret Organ

[1] Margaret Organ, Objects and sculpture exhibition catalogue, 1981

[2] Margaret Organ, Objects and sculpture exhibition catalogue, 1981

[3] Margaret Organ, Objects and sculpture exhibition catalogue, 1981

[4] Margaret Organ, Objects and sculpture exhibition catalogue, 1981

 

Image credits:

Margaret Organ, Loop, 1978. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London. Copyright: the artist

Archive images: © Margaret Organ and Leeds Museums & Galleries (Henry Moore Institute, Archive of Sculptors Papers)  

 

Anne Hardy’s work derives from places she calls ‘pockets of wild space’,  gaps in the urban space where materials, atmospheres, and emotions gather, using what she finds there to manifest sensory and unstable installation works that fully immerse you. Hardy brings this approach to her selection for The Weather Garden, envisioning the gallery space as a shifting impermanent landscape, a meditative environment shaped by local weather data, which has been translated into gently fluctuating light.

 

The Weather Garden is at Towner Art Gallery until 2 June 2019.

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The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.