Interview with artist Timothy Cresswell whose ‘Primal Forms’ is a must see!

We just called up artist Timothy Cresswell to discuss ‘Primal Forms’, his ever growing collection of clay spheres which he is bringing to the Wicked this weekend.  We had a truly fascinating chat talking nature, Rothko, goddesses… Oh and Hackney WickED obviously…


What interests you about the sphere? Is it a spiritual thing? A mathematical thing? An Iconic thing? Please tell us all…

The sphere, wow. It’s all of those things. It connects with the universe and I just like the idea of working in three dimension. I love round things, if you’re not going to do geometry on a flat surface you might as well do it three dimensionally. And why the sphere? There’s the connection of the planets, the earth, the moon, the sun. It’s such an obvious thing to be involved with. Everything about spheres I love. When you draw a building you can see that it converts into three dimension but you just can’t draw a sphere – its not something that can be elevated from paper. So you just get in that mind frame of working in 3D.

The spheres look very organic. Are they related to the natural world? 

Well yes, basically the construction of nature is what I’m interested in. It’s getting away from what man does; squares, cubes etc… When you use the sphere you start to see how nature is designed. Fruit and so much else in nature relates to this. I just love exploring things. This is where man is going to go, I think. We are going to get away from the rectangle. It is organic. I think we should be much more organic generally.


From the pictures, it looks like your sculptures are based on the ground, like for example, Carl Andres bricks. Both of you were working in the 70s using natural organic forms. Is there any conceptual relationship between you two?

No… They’re not really ground-based. I don’t want people to have to stoop to see the detail. From a distance they could be just spheres and I’ve spent hours making the detail on them so I don’t want that to be missed. But I like rolling them on the ground. I have a difficulty with modern art actually. I might just be stupid but I’m very keen on ancient art. I like art to stand the test of time. I have this dream that I’ll bury my spheres and people will dig them up in thousands of years and they will bare relevance. I think if they were to dig up those bricks in a thousand years, people would just think ‘well, they’re just a load of bricks’. I like craftsmanship. I do connect with other artists though. Andy Goldsworthy. He’s very exciting, I definitely chime with him. I don’t even understand Rothko, I don’t see what that really is but I know that people do so I believe it…

I guess there’s a belief that Rothko’s stuff is quite spiritual…?

Well, that may well be the case. I’m very interested in India and I’m a believer in a society that’s not man-based. I’ve got a good interest in goddesses and so I’m a believer in spiritual things but i get my spirituality from other places.

You had some shows in the ’70s, like your Serpentine show, but then disappeared until the 2009 Hackney WickED. Why the exhibition hiatus?

Oh well, that was all at college wasn’t it. There were opportunities at college. At that time i thought ‘well, that’s were it was at’ but then i don’t know, it just faded off. I’ve always been into doing things but it’s just not been about exhibitions. I’ve done a lot of teaching with disabled people. I’ve always had projects on the go but even now I’m not really into exhibitions but I do tell my children not to, sort of, throw it all in the skips when I’m gone.

Ha Ha, yes, they’ve got to be buried in the ground…

Yes, bury it and dig it up later! I did some sound sculpture at The Serpentine actually, all the painters hated it cos it made such a noise, playing the sea and stuff. I had it at the Royal Academy, in the foyer, at the Young Contemporaries show, with all these reflectors moving around. I don’t think they’d ever seen anything like it. I was interested in recording human interaction and the reflectors would come round and record conversations between people and beam it around.

What if they were gossiping  about someone?

Well that’s what I wanted but it sort of never came around.


And you are bringing your ‘Primal forms’ to Hackney WickED 2013. What can we expect?

What can we expect… Well, I’ve got a house full of spheres here. I’ve got some that are about 12″ diameter and I’ve got about thirty odd of these but ‘m not going to bring thirty – just a selection. Daniel (Timothy’s son) has found me a space which I’ve not seen but apparently there’s a sandpit. So, we’re going to roll some spheres in a giant sand pit. I have rolled them on beaches before but never in a sand pit and people are going to be invited to come and have a go.

If your spheres could have a magical power. What would that be?

A magical power… Wow. I’m a great believer in the paranormal. I think that maybe my spheres would do the sort of things that crystals do. I’ve got a lot of crystals about actually but I’m not great at getting the benefits of them. But just something that will have a good effect on someone. That’s a magical power.  I suppose I think of my sculptures as like mandalas – Yantras and 3D mandalas so I’ve always seen them as that anyway, and I like crop circles too. I have a funny feeling that i come from somewhere outside of the earth and so I see the spheres as part of that really, and who I am, and I don’t really understand much about that. So that’s magic.

Timothy Cresswell’s Primal Forms are on show at 90 Mainyard over the 3 days of the Festival. He’ll also be inviting participation at a live exploration of rolling his spheres in the sand at Forman’s Yard on Saturday and Sunday.

Also don’t miss Timothy Cresswell playing his rare global tape collection at the program of music at 90 mainyard on until 11pm everyday of the festival.

Line Up:
NOVA – DJ set (Cream Collective)
NACHO (Downlow Radio)
NAND – DJ set (Skull Thread)
TENEBRIS (Unconscious Collective)
Plus other Guest DJ’s

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