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Richard Wilson: watertable 16 May–15 May 1994 | She Came in Through the Bathroom Window 3 April–23 April 1989 | 20:50 7 February–22 February 1987 | Sheer Fluke 19 January–27 January 1985 | Publications



Richard Wilson | watertable, 1994
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Richard Wilson watertable, 1994 (installation view)
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Richard Wilson watertable, 1994 (installation in progress)
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Richard Wilson watertable, 1994 (installation view)

Press Information

Two tons of concrete drainage pipe, one full size billiards table, one hole 13ft x 7ft x 3ft deep and exposed ground water. These constitute Richard Wilson’s latest sculpture which opens the second gallery space at Matt’s Gallery in March.

At first sight the room appears to be empty. However, sunk flush with the newly laid floor, one immediately discerns the green baize of a full size billiards table. Simultaneously, one recognises the sound of splashing water coming from below. Five skip loads of rubble have been removed from the gallery floor to create a hole in which the billiards table now sits. There is a small gap between the table’s cushioned ledge and the ragged edge of the hole. A concrete drainage pipe measuring 32 inches in diameter has been sunk into the table passing through the clay underneath the building right down to London’s water table 3 meters below. Peering down this pipe, one sees at the bottom the moving water that one first heard on entering.

Wilson’s work not only challenges the boundaries of sculptural form and the function of the gallery space, but it also challenges the perimeters of architectural space. He has succeeded in extending spaces by pushing them outward, inward and upward but it seems that the one area where architecture must retain its integrity is where it touches earth. In the case of watertable the boundaries were set by the position and extent of the foundations on which the building rests. Wilson invites the visitor to experience the extended space by locating the work underground and replacing a section of the new floor with the level surface of the billiards table. By imposing a single viewpoint down the pipe set into it, just as a player might view the ball down the cue stick, the contradiction implicit in this solid building resting on water and running sand is laid bare.


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