David McCracken’s newest exhibition, Plain View, brings one of his ongoing concepts of the ‘bomb’ to fruition. In recent years, the bomb form has been an evolutionary process for McCracken, thematically and artistically, as well as through his own personal connection to the objects.
The bombs are based on the forms of early aircraft delivered bombs deployed in 1944; in particular the Tallboy and Grandslam models. Both of these famous bombs were designed by British aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallis. McCracken recalls the photographs of the bombs that he saw as a young boy and found himself drawn to the purity and the elegance of their form. It was following this that he delved into their historical use, development and deployment. Despite the destructive nature of these bombs and their historical context, these sculpture realisations have an inviting quality to them. On the surface, they are shiny and covetable; they entice the viewer in and reflect their surroundings back to us. They look luxurious and lavish, with the fear that should shroud them having been stripped away; their true purpose lost. They now take the form of these playful, aesthetic, inflatable toys that transcend their materiality; a stark contrast to the utilitarian objects that they have been derived from.
Their playful and whimsical quality does not, however, represent the labour intensive process that is undertaken to manufacture them. Each bomb is individually fabricated from McCracken’s own designs using stainless steel plates that are hydroformed under pressure to generate the organic wrinkles and folds, giving the material a lightness that realistically it does not have. They have subtle differences, unique to each bomb. The reflective finish is achieved by grounding and polishing the stainless steel, with a final lick of coloured industrial paint completing the sculptures.