The Dappled Light of the Sun (Formation I)

The Dappled Light of the Sun (Formation I) is constructed in welded weathered steel, measuring 475 x 792 x 792 cm. Made in 2015 and first shown in London, it was originally exhibited as a set of five unique clouds arranged as a vast canopy in the courtyard of the Royal Academy of Arts. These other companion pieces are now all in international collections. 

The sculpture is comprised of a large, floating, cloud-like structure, which is formed from thousands of bolted tetrahedrons propped nimbly on a set of three tripods. With a height of nearly five metres, its monumental scale enables the sculpture to be immersive, encouraging viewers to walk beneath and around it, experiencing the changing patterns created by dappled light passing through the complex, geometric canopy. The work embodies the artist’s deep fascination with mathematical theory, as well as his engagement with the natural world. 

Taking on a form reminiscent of a large tree that offers beauty and shade, the branches and leaves are replaced by an intricate and complex series of bifurcating tendrils that cascade down in scale as they grow and stretch outwards. In total, the work is made of over 6,000 welded triangles, which in turn form around 1,600 tetrahedrons. The tetrahedrons themselves are organised into five generations of sizes which, like a plant, cascade down in scale as they radiate outwards toward the sky. 

Shawcross noted in 2015:

The Greeks considered the tetrahedron to represent the very essence of matter. In this huge work I have taken this form as my “brick”, growing these chaotic, diverging forms that will float above the heads of visitors.

It is one of the most significant mature works of Shawcross’ career and although completely sentient in form, the composition harnesses the artist’s fascination with the perpetual motion of the natural world. The Dappled Light of the Sun (Formation I) has been acquired by MICAS as part of its permanent collection.


© Malta International Contemporary Art Space 2024

Skip to content