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David Medalla

David Medalla (b.1942, Philippines) enrolled at Columbia University in New York at the age of twelve upon the recommendation of American poet Mark van Doren. In the late 1950s he returned to Manila and met the Catalan poet Jaime Gil de Biedma and the painter Fernando Zóbel de Ayala, who became the earliest patrons of his art. He now lives and works in London, New York and Paris.

Informed by complex combinations of memories and evolving relationships, his work often reflects rhythms and systems found in the natural world.

His practice incorporates painting, participatory work, performance and kinetic sculpture, including the pioneering ‘auto-creative’ sculptures that he first made in the 1960s.

‘Art, for me, begins as a simple idea, like a seed that grows into a tree. The idea becomes ‘full grown’, sometimes, ‘expanding’ and taking on different manifestations, like trees that become a forest.’

The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture

In 2016, David Medalla was shortlisted for The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture.

For the Prize exhibition, he made two new auto-creative sculptures – a new version of his seminal work Cloud Canyons, 1964–2016, and Sand Machine, Bahagari, 1963–2016, a moving work comprising sand, shell, necklace and bamboo. These works are put in a constant state of movement and flux, giving, in the words of the artist, ‘tangible form to invisible forces’.

A new iteration of Medalla’s hugely popular and ongoing, participatory piece A Stitch in Time was also presented.

Conceived in 1967 as a pair of simple handkerchiefs that the artist gave to two of his ex-lovers at Heathrow Airport to wish them happy travels, the series explores themes of time, circulation and chance encounters.

Spools of coloured thread dangled over an octagonal cloth and visitors were invited to stitch in words, pictures or attach small, light-weight objects to the cloth.

Related exhibitions & events

The Hepworth Prize For Sculpture 2016

21 Oct 2016 - 19 Feb 2017

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Further Reading


Shortlisted artists and judges announced for Hepworth Prize For Sculpture

The Hepworth Wakefield announced the four shortlisted artists and judging panel for the UK’s first prize for sculpture.

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