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Image of Cochlea by Edward Allington
Edward Allington, Cochlea. Photo © Jesus College Cambridge

Edward Allington

Work exhibited: Cochlea.

Allington’s work often reflects an interest in the cultural legacy of the classical world. However, his preference is for broken forms, salvaged motifs, fragments of a text that has not survived transmission whole.

He avoids the traditional associations with Apollonian order in a search for Dionysian waywardness; his work embodies a suspicion about the importance of the life of the body against which a system of rational control has been asserted.

As a consequence, he is often drawn to the exploration of forms that combine symmetrical logic with the suggestion of a deep interiority. Cochlea (2000) is a typical product of this preoccupation with spirals, cones and cornucopia: geometrically exact containers for the organic.

The origins of the present work lie in an earlier commission, Three Steps Towards the Sea (1985) now on display in the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. This included three shell shapes, one of which has been repeated in Cochlea. The title alludes both to the spiral cavity of the inner ear and the form of a shell such as that of the common whelk.

The hard outer casing is given an extra degree of deadness through the addition of nuts and bolts; this technological streamlining contrasts with the suggestion of an internal space for a form of coiled marine life, and an echo chamber for the rushing of blood, commonly associated with the sound of the sea.

Allington plays with a series of contrasts between hard and soft, technological and biological, external and internal, while also registering the possibility of resonance between the structures of the human body and the organization of the non human world.

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