Artist: Leigh Dyer
Dyer works mainly in metals (iron, galvanised steel and stainless steel) producing stand alone, thought-provoking, often witty, timeless sculptures. The ‘clean’ and creative design process allows Dyer’s imagination to take flight and then the heavy physical part of his work comes, in which he must approach his art as a functional and practical process. He manipulates the metal – dragging, pulling and turning the sculptures and hanging them upside down, so he can view them and work on them from all angles. He has an affinity with the materials that he uses and incorporates their response to the natural elements in his designs: galvanised steel does not rust and is not too shiny but changes its tones depending on the season; stainless steel maintains its shine, reflecting light and images which enhance the sculpture itself so that the viewer becomes incorporated into the piece.
Using the tensile strength of steel, which he feels lends itself to flowing lines, he makes works that sit within their environment and withstand the elements or adapt with them. In Winkle Club (2012, made for the Winkle Club charity, Hastings), he incorporated metals in order to make a comment about the subject: the fisherman’s equipment is made from iron so that it would rust and juxtapose with the natural elements of the sculpture – the giant winkle and fish – which are made in stainless steel so that they remain pristine and shiny.
Dyer’s sculptures fit the environment in which they sit. In The Landing (c. 2016, seafront, Hastings), Dyer was commissioned to make a sculpture to commemorate the Norman landings of 1066. He used galvanised steel to make the outline of the prow and part of a Norman longboat, tipped upwards, as if it emerging from the sea or returning back down into it - perhaps suggestive of a ceremonial burial. From the side, the prow of the boat adduces the stylised shape of a cormorant and by incorporating this natural image, as apposite to the setting as a boat is, Dyer provokes a response beyond the history of the landings. The sculpture is subtly boned but appears hollow – skeletal – and the environment can be seen through it. It suggests the transience and the passing of life, of a momentous point in history that is half-forgotten but still remembered and commemorated.
Dyer is a versatile artist and has just worked with Theatre Nation in Hastings to make a set design for their production of Waiting for Godot. Dyer created the central tree motif of the set, taking inspiration from the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim (alluding to Becket’s Irish nationality). By referencing the hexagonal-shaped, interlocked, basalt stones at the base of the tree, Dyer connotes an eternal, fossilised tree of life or knowledge.