A sculptor, writer and educator, Allington came to prominence following the group exhibitions Objects and Sculpture (1981, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and Arnolfini, Bristol) and The Sculpture Show (1983, the Hayward Gallery and Serpentine Gallery). Like many of his contemporaries – Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Shirazeh Houshiary, Richard Wentworth, and Bill Woodrow to name a few – Allington was working in response to the belief that minimal and conceptual practices were losing their charge.
Allington was fascinated by the presence of classical forms in everyday life; be they restored fragments displayed in museums, reconstructions of Classical Greek sites, or kitsch reproductions of antiquity. Ideal Standard Forms, 1980 (Tate), speaks to this key concern with the artificial construction of culture. Arranged on the floor in a roughly square format, nine geometric objects – including a sphere, a cone, a cube, an ellipsoid – reveal Allington’s enduring interest in questions around authenticity and imitation. Hand-made in plaster, the sculptures are universal, ideal forms; yet they are inevitably imperfect manifestations that combine the effort of idealisation with the language of mass production.
The title of the exhibition, Things Unsaid, is taken directly from a drawing by the artist, reminding us that we often know more than can be spoken. Moreover, it encapsulates Allington’s feelings on the relationship between sense, perception, and objects that we physically experience and touch.
Henry Moore Institute
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