Remarkable forms stem from an evolving career in this major survey of Cragg's work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
For many artists, the day job can prove a painful distraction from the vital business of making art. But there is evidence to suggest that, for a sculptor at least, extra-curricular activities can benefit one's practice.
Tony Cragg began his artistic career in a most unlikely setting: the National Rubber Producers Research Association, where he spent two years as a lab technician. And it was here he first began drawing, as a means of documenting experiments in rubber production.
To this day, there's an amorphous, organic quality to his work which suggests that, for Cragg, all materials are pretty elastic.
He followed up this stint of employment with an art school training. He studied at both Wimbledon School of Art and then the Royal College of Art. It was his experience in the lab, rather than the classroom, that impressed his next employers: a foundry making components for engines (calling to mind another major sculptor, Richard Serra, who once worked in a steel factory).
Cragg still makes work by hand, albeit with some studio support, and his work still begins life in his sketchbook. The imaginative forms he creates are hard to conceive of and hard to process. But we are told the artist conceives them as ideas made manifest. So in fact they are a perfect marriage of industrial work experience and art school training.
Now YSP is staging the UK’s biggest ever exhibition devoted to Cragg’s work. The gallery has five decades' worth of production to draw on, along with new works. The extensive show will take place in the gallery grounds, along with the Underground Gallery. Take the day off from your day job, and go see it.