Ruth Duckworth gave the Casson Lecture at the 2007 Festival, discussing her life and work as an artist.
Form is what matters to me in any material. I saw a TV film on the architect I.M.Pei yesterday. He says he loves sculpture and would have loved to be a sculptor. But he is a sculptor. Sculpture to live in and move in. The three dimensional nature of his buildings has form and is stunning.
Pattern intrigues me. Colour can give me pleasure, but form moves me. When I was still a student in London, I went to a big Indian exhibition. Two large rooms with sculpture, stone and bronze mostly, and one room with paintings. Beautiful miniature paintings. That day I decided I would be a sculptor, not a painter.
The three dimensional nature of the sculpture grabbed me and hasn’t let go yet. That was 60 years ago.
Form – the sight of earth from space (I know pattern and colour are a part of sight). Peaches, Plums, Breasts, Bottoms – The Fullness of Form.
Quite often, when I am working on a piece (some take me several weeks to do), I suddenly find there is something wrong, however slightly, with the form. I have to keep working on it even if it means that the piece doesn’t survive. I know that other people would probably not notice this – but once I have the form, I can’t live without it.
Twenty to thirty years ago, when I was less aware of what I was making, I had a test. If I could imagine my piece, however small, out in space and it survived there as a form, it was ok. Maybe I should still be doing that.
Just recently I did a porcelain wall piece. Unglazed. Unglazed porcelain shows form beautifully.