sarah lucas & julian simmons, the king, 2010 (triptych).


A right-angle branch with one arm slightly crooked, a curious bollocky growth about its elbow, found water-worn down by the stream, in the hand instantly a tool …the form of an antler pick, early-man at the bottom of the garden, which fits, as modern-man is in the skip down the street.

Sarah having cast the branch in plaster to have a look, then what?  In front of a blazing fire came the notion of a wheel.  A three-armed or -legged triskele …then the trickiness of connecting the spokes to a supporting hub …too complex – practically and visually, mmm …then the idea of four arms …more beautiful …of the seasons …fourfold – the farmed field on board, and the whole thing lighter, suspended, actually …and in time; and four makes a cross …a swastika here, right-handed from the front, left-handed from the back.  The cross – the possibility of endless movement back and forth between there and here – Heaven and Earth along its straight arms …while the swastika’s crooked arms – return is not required …kings have always been associated with gods, but then again The King is a farmer working the fields, ploughing, furrowing, sowing, he’s got the king on him – as a tool, it’s actually a sculpture of meritocracy rather than plutocracy.

The penis cast is horizontal – yet upside-down …its curve speaks of gravity rather than the defiance of it: much about this sculpture places power into the lives of everyone, into the earth rather than the heavens. The King’s not about taking up your view – blocking it, its open, bony.

Here the king’s ‘weapon’ is an ard – a primitive plough …in a position to turn soil – an act of peace rather than war, though as Sarah says – fields of regimented crops are the army …its not easy wondering, but look there …wild-oats rise twice as high!

The bollocky bit of the branch cried out for a penis.  If I remember correctly this was the third of the Penetralia nobs, and the most perfect …detailed with a slight curvature and a prominent helmet.  First wasEros – the fortuitous very first nob-mould made on the kitchen table, the cast Romantically resting downward – an arrow from above, then came Dayo a remarkable effervescent spongiform cast, followed by The King, then maybe it was Luvah with his smooth liquid emergency, and then the sign-post-gun-like Swan.  Each unique seamless one-piece mould cut away from its cast, one-offs, everything changes, requiring a fresh erection for the next sculpture – very much in the manner of the reigns of kings.


They were the casts that got out into the world, there were plenty more between them, that for whatever reason are now in a box knocking about together in a cupboard.

The King, a part of Penetralia, late winter 2007-2008 when the oil ran out …the heating, we lived and worked in the kitchen, actually not an unusual place for Sarah to work, she’s never had a studio as such, working next to the washing machine or a gentle stew is ideal.  Studios generally start with nothing and tend towards oneself, the home is already oneself and tends toward making what one – and possibly everyone, desires and requires.

You thought it was impossible! …eternal erection, eternal reign, King of Kings, God in a word.

I have a notion about what an image is, whether textual or visual: two disparate objects juxtaposed.  It can be more than two, but two is most potent, and with a power that increases with the degree of disparateness, and closeness of juxtaposition.  This I believe is also Sarah’s attitude, never over-complicated or difficult, efficient in fact, and always containing associations found from various edges, primarily physical – what’s at hand, though ultimately philosophical – what’s in her mind, but always that close, connected by her furrowed brow.

Julian Simmons, Suffolk, August 2013.

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