Interview: Inge King
Rare is the artist whose expanse of career is laid before the eyes of the public with a retrospective shown at a gallery of international standing. Even more rare is the artist who is still alive to receive the acknowledgement. But then, explains National Gallery of Victoria curator David Hurlston, 98-year-old sculptor Inge King has never been someone content to live a life of mediocrity.
David: “It’s one of those weird terms that is over used but, in terms of Inge, it is hard not to call her a living legend given the role she has played in the development of sculpture in this country in the modern tradition.”
Inge arrived in Australia in 1951 and still lives in Warrandyte in the Robyn Boyd-designed home she shared with her late husband and fellow sculptor, Grahame King, since 1952.
She is an artist who David describes as being free from adherence to specific schools of artistic theory, instead moving between eras spent working in the realms of both figurative and abstract sculpture.
David: “She is hard to pin down in that sense. Once after a trip to Northern Australia she did a whole series of bronze cast birds, inspired by the great flocks in flight. In the ‘60s you look at the steel assemblages and the welded steel abstract sculptures. In the 1970s she was much more refined but still abstract and in the 1990s she went back to figure with her bronze casting.”
The unbroken years of her work have only recently come to an end, with Inge remaining a working sculptor in to her 90s: just prior to the exhibition’s May launch, she remained active in overseeing the creation of her monumental sculptures, one of which arrived prior to the showing in the back of a truck straight from the fabricator.
Yet while age may have thrown a net of limitations over her physical artistic practice, Inge still very much retains a bonded connection to her endeavours.
David: “She was in yesterday with some of her friends and she went for a bit of a walk around; she is amazing in that she hasn’t lost any of her mental agility and remembers everything. Inge was recalling dates of works off the top of her head and they were precise every time. It goes to show the investment she has.”
INGE KING Constellation is showing at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square until August 31. Entry is free.