British-born sculptor Tony Cragg (°1949, Liverpool) left his native land in 1977 to work on the Continent. He now resides in Wuppertal, Germany. This work, entitled ‘Britain Seen From the North’ (1981), is typical of a period when Cragg made floor and wall reliefs out of broken pieces of found rubbish.
It features the shape of Great Britain, oriented so that east is up, north is left. At that left is the figure of a person, possibly the artist himself, ‘seeing’ Britain from the north. Because of its components, the work has often been interpreted as a comment on the state of the nation at that time, when it went through considerable economic hardship – especially in the north.
Cragg was British representative at the (43rd) Venice Biennale (in 1988), where he earned a menzione speciale. In the same year, he won the Turner Prize. In 1994, he joined the Royal Academy and in 2002 he received a CBE. In 2007, he won the Praemium Imperiale. Not bad at all for a bloke who started out as a lab technician at the British National Rubber Producers Research Association.
Jantien van der Vet alerted me to the existence of Cragg’s strange wall map, acquired by and exhibited at the Tate Modern in London.