A floor sculpture for what was found at Bute. Incorporates a hidden performance aspect and an elemental choice of materials.

This piece developed from a visit to the Isle of Bute in 2019 and was realised in December 2021 for the exhibition Is This It? at The Royal Standard. Its simple materiality and monumentalism seeks to restore the missing altar of the 5th century chapel to St. Ninian by straight transposition – but into a startingly different context.

Altar (2021)

Altar comprises a kind of low relief floor work whose boundary is marked in chalk to purposefully create a vallum or peribolos around the object, its intention being subtler than a mere gallery mark.

A 60kg standard british paving slab forms the plinth for a 15kg load of black volcanic sand from Iceland. This recalls the great ash pile of the altar to Zeus at Olympia, the beaches of Bute and the period of the Columban missions, then latterly a new reading of something altogether more elemental and mysterious.

Altar (2021)

From an oblique view however the black sand reveals a little more of its character and origination. Its cone shape alludes to the volcano from whence it came, the plinth greedily playing with the scale as a kind of landscape.

The cone also ask questions of the viewer about how it was formed by the artist. It is at this point that an additional reading of the piece is revealed, a performance-aspect or better – ritual, of its installation. The following film helps to re-live the ritualistic aspect of this work, revealing a short excerpt of what was an hour-long pour…