"In the late 1960's, British artist Roger Ackling kicked a tin can for 16 kilometres across England's Salisbury Plain. It might have looked like the act of a disgruntled adolescent, but it was actually the spirited play of creative adult exploration. It came in the wake of Richard Long's treks across country. Renegade and unruly, these documented actions knocked sculpture off its pedestal, introduced dimensions of time and space, and grounded a new kind of sculpture in art history."
- Courtney Kidd, Sydney Morning Herald 278/2/01
Roger Ackling is an artist of integrity and purpose which he shares with a small number of Australian artists. Unbeknownst to Ackling, UK born Australian Brian Blanchflower also trekked across country for spiritual substance in art in 1961-2. Like his co - exhibitors at Annandale, Young Ha Park and Paul Boston, he has created a tight, immediately recognisable oeuvre and shares with them an interest in oriental thought. However, whereas Boston and Park are primarily painters, Ackling?s unique working process falls between the cracks of conventional categories. For a start his medium is sunlight instead of paint. Using a magnifying glass, Ackling burns images onto wood using found objects, often driftwood, as a support. The correct description of an Ackling work is ?sunlight on wood?. This connects his work to both the land, the journey (in order to find the supports) and to the ongoing and current debate on what constitutes painting or sculpture. It is a meditative and lengthy process which necessarily embraces an element of chance as a days work is dependent on the weather. Passing clouds may change the intensity of hundreds of tiny burned ?black suns? which make up the intervention. The images are often geometric in nature and bring to mind a more rigorous abstraction in the art history of the past but there is an exquisite interplay between these disciplined designs and the random shapes of the found objects. During his visit to Australia with his wife Sylvie for an exhibition in early 2001, Ackling travelled to some of the National parks in central NSW. On this journey, he found in his path the equivalent of a piece of outback driftwood by using an old railway tie to make an exquisite work while sitting nearby a sign denoting the 150 degree parallel - a perfect mix of rigor and chance.
The work in the Annandale show is an opportunity to better understand the myriad possibilities in making art in a stylistically and highly disciplined and yet totally open manner. These are works for the mind as well as the heart of the viewer.
Roger Ackling (born 1946 lives and works in Norfolk UK) has had nearly over one hundred solo exhibitions since 1976 in the UK., USA, Japan, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria and Australia. This is his second solo show at Annandale.
- Bill Gregory, 2002