Sculpture by Dick Onians unveiled at New Capital Quay, London

'The Still Centre of The Turning World', a striking stainless steel sculpture by Dick Onians was unveiled at New Capital Quay on 9 September 2014.

'The Still Centre of the Turning World', Dick Onians


"This sculpture is descended from a line of my sculptures with the theme of overlapping forms that invite the eye to keep moving. It also has parts cut away to show what happens inside.  Geometrically it is much more complex than it first appears. The original maquette for this was carved in mahogany, from the days when one could easily obtain exotic timbers.  Nowadays I would work in walnut or other European wood. 

The title is taken from a quotation from T.S.Eliot’s poem “Burnt Norton’”. I first read this poem in 1964 and I stored the line in my memory as I realised it was important. Eliot uses the image to contemplate the mystery at the centre of things. In a rotating object there must be a place which does not move. 

The spherical shape is a reference to the globe.  The form of the piece with its equator, longitudinal features and tilt seems highly appropriate for the site near the Greenwich Mean as they refer to the historic role of Greenwich for navigation and for world wide trade. The mirror finish on some faces makes it hard to be certain about what we are looking at. Our being able to see our own reflection on the inside implicates us in the central mystery.  There is a mystical content in this which the viewer is at liberty to find for him or herself. 

Nearly all my sculptures start as carvings in wood or stone. The subject is sometimes derived from natural forms and sometimes from mathematical ideas of proportion or geometrical figures which I develop into organic shapes.  Many are concerned with the theme of endlessness and continuous renewal.   In recent years it has been particularly rewarding to see my smaller pieces much enlarged. 

Carving satisfies me because I love the physical activity and because of the way in which ideas and problems with the material emerge during the process of searching for the intended shape. This induces a collaboration between me and the material which gives the completed piece a life of its own.  I try to make forms that never would have existed but for me. I have an inner compulsion to create shapes.  Making sculptures is my way of celebrating life." 


The sculpture can be found at the entrance to the Galliard Homes scheme at New Capital Quay, London.