Dave King

As an art student of the mid to late Sixties, my formative years coincided with Happenings and performance art and later with the high points of both Minimalism and Conceptual Art. After completing a postgraduate course at the Slade I taught at a senior level in UK art schools and became steeped in the history, theories and debates of sculpture during an important period of questioning and reassessment. Throughout this time I maintained an ACME studio in East London and exhibited widely in the UK and overseas.

Over the years I have worked with steel, wax, bronze, wood, fired clay, salvaged materials and much else besides. Through it all I evolved a distinctive lexicon of forms and images that I continue to explore and expand today. Drawing is an important part of my practice. At the same time I have made large-scale public artworks which included both permanent and short-lived sculptures for sites as diverse as new buildings in London Docklands, a traffic island in St Louis, Missouri, Socrates Sculpture Park and a remote field in Southwest Ireland. The steel and cast bronze piece Shadowplay, for the East India Docks in London, memorialises the past working life of this historic site.

I gravitate towards an architecture where roofs especially are also thought of as fluid, a rigid form of sea wave. This follows Courbet’s vision of the rooftops of Paris as a marine painting. For me, this is a place of drama where the likes of boulders, boats, plates or folded paper shapes combine with balancing figures, flames or other forms to create an architecture of the imagination.

The Cass Sculpture Foundation suggested it is the less familiar forms that test the viewer: “Wood, found objects and metals in all manner of construction techniques give a rich flavour to King’s work. Some are painted, others exist in their raw state, but all are finished with skill and precision.”

In the past 14 years at home in Devon, I have developed new work in a converted barn studio and, together with my partner, made a not-for-profit exhibition space, The Shippon Gallery. This has brought to a rural environment established artists whose work, shown alongside my own, has elicited considerable local and regional interest. 

Images (from left)

  • Or What’s a Heaven For? Painted MDF, fabric 10 x 1.8 x 1.2 metres, Wells Cathedral, 2021
  • Think Slow, Act Fast Mixed woods, bronze, wire, rope 183 x 117 x 160 cms. 2019
  • Shadowplay Painted steel, bronze 5.94 x 3.3 x 3.38 mtrs, for NCC Developments Ltd. East India Docks, London, 1991
  • Palace of Memories Painted wood, ceramics, cast aluminium 200 x 160 x 35 cms. 2018
  • Shadow III Wood, painted wood, wire mesh, 96 x 64 x 28 cms. 1991
  • Tempietto Mixed materials from Canary Wharf construction site, height 5.8 metres (not including base), 1991 
  • Voyage Unique bronze, 21 x 16 x 17.5 cms.  2006
  • Emerald Acrylic, 91 x 76 cms. 2023