RA Forum conversazione on ‘concrete poetry’

7 March 2012

Conversaziones are a new initiative by the RA Forum. They are special, round-table discussions exploring particular themes in the practice of art, architecture and visual culture through round table discussion between artists, critics, historians and commentators. For the 7 March, the late Barry Flanagan RA’s work – as represented in the recent exhibition at Tate Britain and the journal he edited and produced while a student on the Advanced Sculpture course at St Martin’s School of Art in the mid-1960s, Silâns – sets the theme.

Flanagan summarised his ideas in a letter to his tutor Anthony Caro RA: ‘The Friday evening classes were good meat for my imagination. The classes prompted the writing of poetry, a play, film scripts, songs, the purchase of cine equipment, and work on a means to translate movement and atmosphere into music. I might claim to be a sculptor and do everything else but sculpture. This is my dilemma.’

purple hanging piece, 1969, hessian, foam, cord, 30′ (material extended) x 4′ x 20_, image 3, source, Jo laptop, high res images from slides folder 1964 – 1970
Purple hanging piece, 1969

We want to explore how these ideas originated and their continuing influence on art practice. Jo Melvin, an art historian, who worked with Tate on the recent exhibition of Flanagan’s work, edited the facsimile publication of Silâns, and coordinates history and theory of fine art at Chelsea, will introduce the discussion.

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