A great admirer of Eduardo Chillida, British artist Tony Cragg pays tribute to the Basque sculptor's life and work with a smooth, undulating carving in milky white stone. Gracefully asymmetrical, Inside Out is a hollow cylindrical form that appears to gently ripple along its length. Softly edged windows have been carved into the sides at irregular intervals, so that we can see and through the sculpture, framing the world both within and without it. A highly intuitive, deeply felt piece, Inside Out is aesthetically self-contained. It is overtly non-figurative, and yet its biomorphic form bridges the gap between geometric and organic structures. Cragg shares an interest with Chillida in making work that aims to unlock the potential of seemingly lifeless materials to take on a dynamism and sense of motion of their own. The relationship between space and form is intrinsic to this. By drawing attention to the inside space of the sculpture, Inside Out makes empty space visible, visually articulating one of Chillida's most fundamental aims.
Cragg, who is known for his adventurous use of both man-made and natural materials, is fascinated by sculpture as a means to study the material world. His first job was as an apprentice at the laboratory of the National Rubber Producers Research Association, and an empirical approach to creativity has informed his work ever since. In the early 1980s, Cragg abandoned installation art and began to engage and experiment with a wide range of materials, including bronze, steel, wood, stone, glass and plastics. Curious about the possibilities inherent to their physical properties, Cragg has consistently aimed to create sculpture that gives life to these materials, objects that reflect something about the world which neither imitate nature, nor exist to be functional. Rather, the material itself dictates his work. As he has said, it is 'Based on ideas, feelings, emotions, moods and gestures. A mixture of method and madness. Most of the time I admit I do not know who is leading, me or the sculpture'. (T. Cragg, quoted in R. Conway Morris, 'Inventing a new visual language', in International Herald Tribune, 14th October 2010, p. 12).