Philip Marshall has five pieces in the exhibition: three outdoors and two indoors. Listen to the artist speak about his works below the next gallery of images.
Metro. This installation of “Metro” is part of a larger project in two- and three-dimensional media prompted by my experiences in some of the cities of Europe and the Middle- and Far-East. This project includes my exploration of the loss of individuality of people in the seething mass of humanity of a great metropolis. It is inspired by the rush-hour foot traffic I have encountered in such cities as London, Tokyo and Jakarta. I have the impression that the people, although often appearing visually similar, remain isolated individuals as they purposefully make their separate, but intersecting, ways to work.
Next Stop Shibuya 次渋谷 . Although executed as an abstract sculpture, now completed, it reminds me of my rush hour experiences on the Tokyo Metro and commuter trains. Being crushed together, often face-to-face with total strangers, too squeezed together to even breath properly, requires a mental preservation of personal space that is not possible physically. The outward curve of these two elements suggests to me the mental separation despite physical proximity that Tokyo, like almost all large cities, requires if one is to maintain one’s own individuality. Having been compressed into a railway car at Shinjuku, and being pushed further in at each stop, hearing “The next stop is Shibuya”, my destination, was a welcome announcement.
Care. I wanted to explore further the shape produced by joining two steel strips along a curved edge that I used in “Next Stop Shibuya”. This simple act of joining two simple shaped sheets can produce a three-dimensional object that reminds me of my times in Japan. I also wanted to challenge myself to create a horizontal piece, and to explore contrasting planes with tubes. The resulting arched shape of the sheets suggested to me a recumbent person, the tubing a caring other; I was reminded of the emotions provoked by “Pieta”. I have had difficulty settling on a title for this abstract piece that would not prejudice the viewer as the contrasting shapes may suggest conflict or tension to some, whereas the composition may suggest the opposite to others. Originally I painted the piece all black; I have repainted the arched element to create more presence and to emphasize that there are two elements that hint at two figures: one draped over the other.
Natural Selection. Since the mid–20th century, concrete has replaced stone as the artist’s metaphor for enduring strength, and for the human taming and domination of nature. I am exploring the themes of “civilization’s” arrogance and self-justifying social order. Our ability to displace nature and destabilize the world’s ecology is very disturbing. However, I am heartened by nature’s resilience and persistence in re-taking the ground that it loses. One has only to see nature’s overwhelming of artifacts of past civilizations, the re-growth of New England’s forest, the grass on a rural road, or the pure riot of a tropical forest to realize that, despite our seemingly all-powerful efforts to impose everlasting marks on the environment, we are only temporary masters of our world. A frail sapling bursting through concrete to remind us of the temporal limits of our power is perhaps a spark of hope.
Resting Places. I created this piece for an art show for the visually–impaired, so I made it as a tactile piece to be touched. I wanted to contrast the silky-smoothness of the slate that I polished, with the rough texture of the stones that were naturally smoothed by being churned together for millennia by the grey English Channel. I had in mind the hollows that stones sometimes have made in rocks by their endless action in fast-moving water, or when used by ancient peoples over many generations for the repeated grinding of corn at the same location. I thought such stones looked as if they had nestled down to rest.