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My sense of rhythm
Anthony Caro Artist
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[Q] You say that fundamentally you feel an abstract artist. The connections between abstraction and music are often made by individuals. Do you think there is a musical quality to the work that you do? Or has there been a musical quality in anyway? Or do you see parallels between your work and music?

Yes, I like to play music. I do see some parallels a bit, and I think I'm interested in rhyme and rhythm, and sometimes in the bath I say completely meaningless things. Because the words don't mean anything, but the words have got a rhyme to them; they've got a rhythm to them, and I realise that I'm not really into meaning half as much as I am into rhythm.

[Q] So you're saying that actually, sometimes the way in which you use language in the bath, which is a mind-boggling thing – there are parallels between that and the way that you make sculpture: that just words like forms are put together.

I don’t know... I don't know but I do notice that, you know, I mean when they both come together, like in Shakespeare's sonnets, like in some... some poetry has... has got these wonderful rhythms and sort of rollingness about them. And yet the words also make total sense and they go with it perfectly. That is... that is perfection; when that happens there's perfection. But I think I would put the rhythm and stuff before I would the meaning, which means that I can sort of join W.S. Gilbert, you know, because the meaning's not very deep or very important but the rhythm's fun.

[Q] Do you have music on when you're working sometimes?

Sometimes, sometimes. But less than I used to. More people in the studio, and when I'm up here alone I will do it but, you know, less.

[Q] Is there a... a rhythm to the way that you work? Do you have to force yourself into routines to get work done or is there a natural impulse to what you do?

I've never had to force myself to get into the studio; it was always easy. I have to force myself to go and answer my letters or anything like that but I... not to get into the studio, no. And I think that's one of the joys of being older, that, you know... you know your rhythm. You know that... you know the... when you work best and you know what not to do sometimes, you know. So you can sort it out a bit, you know. ‘I think that's not the right one to be working on now, it doesn't go with me now but, you know, it might tomorrow or something.’ You know, I think all that is something that you kind of... you know... you know yourself well enough to know that, and that's very helpful. I think in the past probably one did... you know, certainly when I was working here in this one car garage, you'd have to go in and confront the same sculpture day after day, you know, and the same problems and the same mistakes and the same difficulties. I can... I can swap from one sculpture to another now and I can... and even plan my week a bit, a little. Then it helps; it helps to make it all more natural.

British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro (1924-2013) came to prominence in 1963 after a show at the Whitechapel Gallery. Keen to create a more direct interaction with the viewer he placed pieces directly on the ground, rather than on plinths, a technique now widely used. He held many honorary degrees and was knighted in 1987.

Listeners: Tim Marlow

Tim Marlow is a writer, broadcaster and art historian. He founded "Tate: The Art Magazine" in 1993 and was presenter of Radio 4 arts programme "Kaleidoscope" from 1991 to 1998, for which he won a Sony Award. He has presented art programme's on BBC 1, Channel 4 and Channel 5, including a documentary about JMW Turner, and written about art and culture for various British newspapers and magazines including "The Guardian", "The Times" and "Blueprint" He is Director of Exhibitions at the White Cube gallery in London as well as a visiting lecturer at Winchester School of Art, an examiner on the Sculpture MA there and former creative director of Sculpture at Goodwood

Tags: William Shakespeare

Duration: 4 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: November 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008