The work of Fugate-Wilcox is about time: 'Since materials change, works of art change. It is an intrinsic contradiction to try to freeze an idea in any medium. The future becomes a major part of a work when the materials are considered first. I start with the materials, consider and include the future, then make the piece actual.'1
The 'diffusion' sculptures through which Fugate-Wilcox became known in the 1970s invoke an awesome time-span. In the Australian National Gallery's piece a layer of zinc is sandwiched between two layers of copper, the same elements which the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), used to make the first electric battery in 1800. The proximity of the two metals ensures that migration of the atoms between one metal and the other takes place, with the result that the metal strips bolted together should eventually meld into a uniform material, a process which the artist anticipates will be at an advanced stage by ad 2500. In effect, the materials become the mechanics of a time capsule, conceptually comprehended.
The Gallery also owns two slightly later works by Fugate-Wilcox which employ the same principles, Cu & C (3500 ad), 1972 and Blue steel & brass (2500 ad), 1974.
Michael Lloyd & Michael Desmond European and American Paintings and Sculptures 1870-1970 in the Australian National Gallery 1992 p.411.
- Terry Fugate-Wilcox, Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, April 1980 (exhibition catalogue), n.p.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010