Enigma 1

2011, by JMW

One dictionary definition of enigma is "a riddle or a puzzling thing". That is exactly what this sculptural object is. You see in it whatever you want to perceive. It is so obscure, coming from the artist's imagination, that even he cannot properly point to any valid explanation of what the sculpture means. It is an object made from a small MDF board (60.5 x 30.5cm purchased at B&Q) painted in household Wilkinson white paint. And the two strange black ovals are eaves comb fillers, which are designed to keep vermin out of roof spaces (Tool Station). They were fixed to the board using 12 mm screws (Homebase) together with washers (Wilkinson). Originally, the two ovals stood proud of the board, but then the twin fillers began wilting. Eventually, the twins settled, with the apex of each about 9cm above the baseboard.

The inspiration came from Barbara Hepworth's "Pelagos" (a Greek word meaning the open sea) recently exhibited at the RA's Modern British Sculpture exhibition and also on show at Hepworth Wakefield, the gallery devoted to her artwork in her home town of Wakefield, West Yorkshire. Pelagos is also an enigma as are so many sculptural works in her output and, for that matter, similarly with her friend and fellow artist, Henry Moore, a great supporter of pit slagheaps, just like JMW who penned his epic poem, "Slagheaps of my Youth" at Worksop, Notts, in 1978.

This mystery object could simply have been called "Untitled", but since JMW abhors such labels, believing that they display a paucity of verbal imagination in the begetter, he always insists on a title for any work he creates, whether it be helpful or antagonistic in interpreting meaning. Hence enigma, allowing the viewer's own imagination to concoct meaning out of a riddle.