Birkenhead, England born 1947

Open to Question 2004 Place made: London, Greater London, England
Materials & Technique: metalwork, decorative design, patinated brass fabricated and patinated

Dimensions: 7.5 h x 47.5 w x 22.5 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2003
Accession No: NGA 2004.282
  • In exploring the difference between reading and understanding, Robert Marsden’s forms suggest the blunt functionality of industrially produced machine components. The precisely detailed construction of Open to question is deliberately obscured through the application of textural patination that suggests the passing of time and the inevitability of decay and dysfunction. The symmetrical, curved shape of this work, the weight and temperature of the metal beneath its patinated surface, and its surprising hollowness evoke the sense of purpose and ceremony of an undefined percussion instrument. The tension in this ambiguity is heightened through Marsden’s use of slit-like apertures in the object and the slight elevation of the visual weight of the surface, which – along with a rhythmical pattern of bolted fixings – suggests a functionality beyond our grasp.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra