Michael Dan Archer
Artists story: Michael Dan Archer
Lying on my back on the ground working on the underside of a diagonally propped four-ton lump of granite with angle grinders at arms length, in the rain, I reminded myself that there are some parts of this life that I enjoy.
The granite came from China, and that's one of the parts I do enjoy. Sculpture enables me to travel a lot. I've made work at symposia in half a dozen European and Eastern countries, meeting and making life long friendships with sculptors from all over the world. Now I also travel to find my stone. My two most recent commissions, a twenty ton granite and cast iron gateway for Chesterfield and a seven-metre-high work in granite and stainless steel for Sutton in South London, are both made in granite from Xiamen in China. I made them on a small island near Quanzhou covered by quarries and workshops, even the streets are lined with precarious piles of blocks and lines of thirty-foot-high Buddhas carved from single pieces of stone.
Travel has always been one of my main inspirations, particularly the architecture of everything I've seen from the Taj Mahal under a full moon to temples in Japan or the sheer-sided marble caverns in Carrara in Italy. My work deals with change and transformation, probably due to my restlessness four years in Japan, many house moves and thirteen schools when I was young.
Although public art has been my main way of producing sculpture over the past few years, I still experiment with exhibition works. I have been working on sculptures for a major solo show at Lincoln Cathedral, one of the most sublime places to site sculpture I could imagine, but one of the most difficult to move work into; every door into the cathedral has steps up to and down from it. We had to push two-ton sculptures up and down ramps to get the work in. The last-minute disappointment of having a Regional Arts Lottery Programme bid (which would have enabled schools workshops and proper interpretation material) turned down, has been tempered by the satisfaction of seeing my work in such a wonderful location.
The difficulties of juggling my part-time teaching at Loughborough University School of Art and Design and commission and exhibition deadlines results in lots of 4am panics, but I can't think of anything else I would rather do.
Michael Dan Archer
MICHAEL DAN ARCHER
is a sculptor.
First published: a-n Magazine September 2002
First published as 'Travelling man'.
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