When Bentham visited the John East Ironworks he was perhaps predisposed to a discovery of materials that promised new formal possibilities for his art.

Mudras

When Bentham visited the John East Ironworks he was perhaps predisposed to a discovery of materials that promised new formal possibilities for his art. There, he found piles of discarded foundry equipment: long-handled ‘shovels’ for skimming the dross, ladles for the molten metal, pouring spouts, sprues, vents and all the pieces broken from the product after casting. In these unlikely objects he sensed a new direction for his art—with time, the steel tools used to manipulate the molten iron had undergone fantastic change. As the cups of the ladles, the heads of the shovels and portions of the handles were repeatedly dipped into the molten metal, they were coated with iron, which steadily accumulated in successive layers about the underlying form.…Bentham recognised in these objects the formal means for linear sculptural composition, drawing in space. These were of a more-or-less consistent thickness, and had richly textured masses of various shapes. At the same time, he responded to their expressive character, to the suggestions of gesture in their linear configurations, and to the delicacy and fragility of their surfaces. They were, as well, evocative of time and the processes behind their eventual form.

Victoria Baster
From catalogue essay, Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, 1985

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