Pistil

1979

Katherine Gili
In the years between the Arts Council Collection's purchase of her sculpture Vertical III and then Pistil in 1978 Katherine Gili built upon the attitude she set right from the start. Nothing was to be accepted as ''found''. Her guide was the deliberate discipline of making, not composing, not arranging, not collaging but constructing, searching for the achievement of an abstract sculptural structure through a dialogue of what she felt within herself and with her chosen medium: steel. As her knoewledge of what the material and its manipulation processes offered grew, it kindled and intensified a desire to create a richer spatial experience within her work. Steel is not the sort of material that is available from DIY stores, it is sourced from the industrial world. For reasons of cost and for ease of choice the scrapyard was the place to go. These great recycling yards held every conceivable shape and type of steel available, and Katherine had made several trips to different yards over the years and as her confidence grew, she began to purchase the bigger volume shapes and thicker, more massive, heavier sections and plate. Of themselves these pieces of material when removed from their industrail context have an unfamiliar and powerful presence. But Katherine was determined to incorporate these volumes and masses in her own terms within her work. With a few minor additions to the equiptment, already she found that she could manipulate the new material type and make inroads into the development of her sculptural range. Pistil is one such sculpture with which Katherine explored the use of greater heat to cut, shape and bend the material to create parts with greater three-dimensional potential. Parts that will meet as volumes and have greater influence over a larger area, to encompass more than just an edge meeting another edge. Parts defined as such and capable of each one bearing upon another and more than one at the same time, articulating to create their own space and to enhance the space of its neighbour and of the whole. Pistill expresses a complex of internal tensions; it feels its boundaries against a slow-moving energy squeezed into a highly compacted centre that settles itself firmly on the ground on the one hand. But on the other hand, the volumes, of looser mass, parts now combined in chords, state themselves purposefully, expanding outwards and upwards against the chords of tighter mass that seek to anchor all to the ground. The spatial arrangement is not drawn but results from a pressure behind the form that is deeply felt, and its expression is therefore sensually engaging and surprising. For Katherine, Pistil forms part of a period of work that saw the industrial aesthetic of steel sculpture finally shaken off and the movemwent towards and increasingly subjective means of expression. The direction she identified for herself then, which was not so much a matter of basing the works on natural forms as an observer but rather as a participant in the reinvention of physical experience, was to inaugurate a deeper curiosity for the physical world and her unmediated response to it. - Robert Persey 2021
  • Artwork Details: 71.1 x 76.2 x 48.3cm
  • Edition:
  • Material description: steel
  • Credit line: © the artist
  • Theme: Abstract
  • Medium: Sculpture
  • Accession number: AC 2063
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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.