unforgettably whitened with dust


And then you see it. It is an Arab dhow or an Egyptian felucca, boats characterised by an angled hypotenuse sail the shape of a thorn. The sculpture is a curved craft, adrift on the grain of the wood, with a cabin and an angled sail – that schematic lever. We call this the “secretary effect” – the unregenerate moment in Superman comics when the secretary takes off her specs (a synecdoche for all her clothes) and Superman suddenly appreciates the pulchritude that was there all the time. After this delicious shock, you take in the effect of the bronze casting – the transfiguration of an Arp-like objet trouvé into something classical, something measured. Then there is the applied partial patina of grey and grey-white paint on the darker grey of the wood – which reads like dirty salt deposits on a working vessel. The mood it enforces suggests not only shipping but an emblem of age. And we are back with the grim functionary, except that now we can make out the name on the lapel badge – Death.

more from Craig Raine at The New Statesman here.