‘Fruitrack’ 1993


David Neat 'Fruitrack' 1993

Fruitrack 1993


'Fruitrack' detail 2

Fruitrack detail




This was one of the first pieces of sculpture I ever attempted, after a number of years painting and drawing. What I sought from sculpture was the chance to progress more systematically, to develop and make systems or kits of components which could comfortably offset the occasional blunder (I mean, if one piece goes wrong it can be easily replaced). Of course it was also about creating things which would have more ‘real presence’, at least as I saw it at the time. In retrospect it was also about having those lengthy periods of purely ‘mechanical’ work .. the shaping, the sanding .. which didn’t require such an intense focus. So what I sacrificed of course was the chance of quick success .. to this day my sculptural work takes a mind-numbing amount of time! Apart from these general motivations, I really didn’t know what I wanted to ‘sculpt’ .. or rather, I knew what I didn’t want to do, but I couldn’t choose from the infinite choices of three-dimensional form that remained. Luckily I made the right decision, to start with the simplest things that were inside me .. versions of favourite shapes (some of them more like gestures) which had always been trying to materialise in my two-dimensional work.

This was also my first proper experience with styrofoam. I’d seen it at the 4D modelshop in London years before and fortunately there was a similar (though tiny) architectural model-maker’s shop in Hamburg. It disappeared soon afterwards though .. maybe I should have bought more styrofoam. But it was a great material for a beginner, and I quickly found the best ways of carving/sanding the shapes I wanted. After coating and painting, these forms really do look like smoothed wood! This wasn’t intentional from the beginning, but I was happy to keep the woodgrain look that remained even after endlessly sanding the polyfilla coating. This was made more possible by using matt Humbrol enamels to paint the forms, because once touch-dry these can be sanded easily with a very fine sanding pad to expose more of the grain. Once the paint was fully hardened (after a few days) I polished with shoe wax. Although the styrofoam itself was rather too susceptible to denting, the paint surface was incredibly strong and has survived without visible scratches to this day!

This was the beginning of my involvement with ‘interactive sculpture’, and I went on to use more durable materials. The Fruitrack kit consisted of many more forms than the rack could contain at one time, the idea being that it could be varied for each presentation or that even the owners could play with the arrangement if they wished.