The two largest figures on exhibition are called The Gate Keeper and Thinking. They stand approximately two and a half metres high, side by side in one room. The Gatekeeper is steadfast and sentinel, eternally blocking the entrance to somewhere, while the figure of Thinking has an outstretched arm.
The Gatekeeper is cast in bronze while the figure Thinking is cast in stainless steel. The Gatekeeper has a head of red jasper stone while the figure Thinking has a head of hematite. Clearly, he is drawing a distinction between the body and the mind. The body can be molded, adorned or scarred. But the head is the repository of meaning, imbued with mystery and subject to the old adage that it can be chipped away. Artistically then it demands a different respect.
“I removed the heads, and did that in an abstract stone,” Taylor says. “Because if you model the head you immediatley look at him to see if you know him, or what group he is from. Is he my side of the river, or my culture?
“As soon as it’s abstract, it’s universal. It belongs to anybody. And the stone specifically has the capacity to do things that I could not think to do. So you will see on his left eye there’s a crack there – and just above his mouth on the right side there is a hole.
“And if you look on his right eye, precicesly where the eye is, there’s a little splatter. It’s in the stone. And also if you look finely there’s a little cube; and that’s pyrite – it’s fools gold – an iron mineral that grew in it.”
Taylor allows the personality of the stone to become the personality of the man.
The same exhibition traveled first to the Everard Read Gallery in London, in June. In the catalogue introduction to that show we are told that Taylor’s sculptures “transmit an acute awareness of vulnerability and temporality.”
These qualities are not necessarily limited to the human form. In the series titled Tangible Truths as Markers of Time, a semi circle of five obelisk-like stones, on rough bronze plinths, harbour a story of formation billions of years old. They are made of red jasper, Belfast granite, Namibian honey aragonite, banded black chert and conglomerate. They’re like giant jewels and they do cause one to ponder their function, firstly as earth artifacts and secondly as art works. It is these that Taylor uses to describe what he believes is at the core of his practice.