‘Sculpture Al Fresco’, Great Fosters Hotel, Surrey, to 28 August

The British sculptor Richard Trupp, 38, a protégé of Sir Anthony Caro, is exhibiting two gravity-defying sculptures. They are part of a group show, Sculpture Al Fresco, in the historical grounds of the Great Fosters hotel in Surrey.

The Juggernaut of Nought, an eight-foot steel wedge positioned at a 70-degree angle, came straight out of his mentor’s studio. “The Juggernaut has its origins in a small piece of metal I found on the floor of his studio,” explains Trupp. “I wanted the piece to act as a link between the sky and the earth, while looking alien within its environment.”

He adds: “I intended the site-specific sculpture to look like a sculptural exclamation mark in the rural environment. It asks questions of its own existence. Where did it come from? What is it doing here? Is it safe?”

Trupp spent a year under Caro’s tutelage before perfecting his skills on the works of Jake and Dinos Chapman, Marc Quinn, Eduardo Paolozzi and Rebecca Warren. He was enlisted to help on Caro’s Millennium Bridge by the Tate Modern and, like Caro, has dispensed with the traditional plinth in his sculptures.

It was his work Fixing Blocks in 2000, at the Royal British Society of Sculptors in London, that grabbed the attention of Caro. He had bolted together three gallery spaces with huge cast-iron nuts and bolts. “I got a call from my mum saying Anthony Caro was trying to get hold of me to be his artist assistant. His attitude is pure enthusiasm for making sculpture. An inspiration, he worked in the studio every day. He composes his sculptures like a conductor in charge of an orchestra,” says Trupp.

By Lucy Siegle

Introducing Richard Trupp

The first time i call Richard Trupp to arrange a meeting, he has his hands in plaster. The second time, he’s pouring a bronze.|

‘It’s a hazard of the job’, he laughs. At the moment, he’s absorbed by a new piece – based on Vulcanus, Roman god of the forge – using bronze and vulcanized rubber. ‘i’m like a dog after a bone once i start the creative process,’ he admits.

He’s been this way since he was a kid, when he built things with cereal boxes, tape and glue.

It was the reaction to Antony Gormley’s Iron Man in Trupp’s native Birmingham that convinced him scuplture was his art form: ‘I loved the way it was so divisive’.

He’s at pains to point out that he’s not a designer. ‘its a hands-on thing i do. I want those spontaneous things that happen, those moments of magic’.

Considering Trupp was shortlisted for the 2001 Jerwood Sculpture Prize, had residency with art collective Metal, and is highly rated by sculptor Sir Anthony Caro, we think there will be plenty more magic moments to come.

By Richard Cork

Modern Ideas Add Up To Eight

A similar ambiguity enlivens Richard Trupp’s contribution. He wants to place a gigantic industrial plug in the bank of the pool in front of Witley Court.

On one level his steel colossus would look like a safety device, jutting out of the steep bank to a height of 20 feet. It seems to reassure us, promising that water from the pool will never cascade down into the vslley.

But the longer we look at this pugnaciously phallic form, the more it appears to offer an invitation to imagine what would happen if we pulled it out. The tranquil pool and gardens would suddenly seem at risk from flooding.

Trupp’s provocative invitation then, is transformed into a source of potentisal danger.

Catalogue text by Richard Cork

Born in Birmingham, Richard Trupp has been strongly influenced by a city that once rejoiced in the sobriquet ‘the workshop of the world.’ He relishes the monumental ironworks still surviving there, and relates his own attitude as a sculptor to the ‘hands-on’ attitude still found in this ‘city of makers.’

When Antony Gormley’s defiant yet vulnerable Iron: Man was installed so dramatically in Victoria Square, the vociferous response from the people of Birmingham fuelled the young Trupp’s burgeoning sculptural ambitions.

Industrial materials duly became the focus in his 1999 solo show at the Royal Society of British Sculptors in London. He treated the three rooms at his disposal as an arena for his Fixing Blocks, doughty steel structures with large cast-iron nuts and bolts attached.

Trupp wanted to play with the space, using the structures as a visible means of binding the rooms together. He also lifted up the floorboards and placed a separate sculpture in the cavity beneath, teasingly hidden from view.

‘It’s still there now’, he explains with amusement, ‘gathering dust and imprisoned by cobwebs.’ Trupp always reacts powerfully to the sites at his disposal.

At the moment, he is producing ‘a wedge’ for a space outside a gallery in Norwich, a permanent sculpture in cor ten steel, which ‘looks as if it is going into the building and lifting it up at an angle.’ This dramatic intervention reflects his interest in Gordon Matta-Clark, who was prepared to use entire buildings as the vehicle for his art.

Without seeking to mimic Matta-Clark in any way, Trupp has learned from his pioneering example and believes that ‘the site feeds the practice, and I’m very responsive to architectural space in general.’

When visiting Witley Court, however, he became fascinated to his reaction to the landscape as a well. Its changing contours stimulated his imagination, and the large pool in front of the building became the focus of his concerns.

The sound of running water from a nearby waterfall is evident to anyone who, approaching the pool, follows the path up the bank. But the pool itself is only visible once the top of the bank has been reached.

Realising that the water could easily run down the valley, Trupp decided that he wanted to place an outsized industrial plug in the steep bank. Rearing twenty feet in the air, it plays with our perception of scale and makes the pool seem far smaller.

At the same time, though,Trupp wants the viewer to imagine that, if his plug were pulled out,’the whole place would flood.’ At first tough and playful, this steel colossus would undoubtedly act as a sculptural exclamation mark in the landscape, disrupting its placidity and introducing an awareness of latent menace.

Trupp is working on the project with a structural engineer. He pays tribute to the way his understanding of heavy steel has been nourished by the year he spent working as Anthony Caro’s assistant.’His attitude is pure enthusiasm’,Trupp explains, describing the atmosphere in Caro’s studio as ‘a fantastic experience.

I was really sweating, but I learned a lot of skills there because of the high quality of workmanship.’ The knowledge Trupp gained there should prove invaluable if he is able to fulfil his dream, plugging the front pool of Witley Court with his provocative intervention.

Issue 03

Art Resistance

The work of Richard Trupp is grounded in a deep respect for the history of sculpture and a curiosity about the myths that have grown up around it. ‘The Wedge’ is from his forthcoming 2009 exhibition at Arts Depot in London, titled ‘Credit Crunch’.

This will feature a wealth of steel exploring sculptural language and scale whilst being playfull with a ironic twist on fluctuating steel prices, wedges of cash and the state of the economy.

By Esther Bradley

A Maquette of things to come.

While Jerwood sculpture prize nominee Richard Trupp reveals a penchant for large-scale industrial techniques, it’s the rich embodiment of historical references that makes his work truly monumental.

When he’s not working hard on his next ambitious design, Richard teaches on the prestigious sculpture course at Kingston University.

A wealth of steel exploring sculptural language and scale, ‘Credit Crunch’ plays with the irony of fluctuating steel prices-the piece itself representing wedges of cash in the uncertain state of the world economy.

By John Plowman

Inspirational Pieces

A simple but striking concept. The Massive cast iron bolt heads are attached to sheet steel and the surfaces have oxidised to a rich brown color allowing the viewer a close up experience of the untreated metal surface. This is a site specific piece.

By bringing such large steel constructions, which one might otherwise only experience in the structure of a bridge or ship, into an indoor environment, the power and strength of the steel, and specifically the bolt heads and their ability to hold together gigantic forces, become a tangible experience.