Niigata-Turkoma is the unique full-scale wood model for the resin relief commissioned in 1975 by Henry Wiggin Co. Ltd (now Special Metals Wiggin Ltd.) as the major feature for the VIP dining and conference room of their Holmer Road headquarters in Hereford.
Henry Wiggin manufactured speciality metal products, notably the Nimonic alloys which were used in Sir Frank Whittle's first jet engines, and in other high strength/temperature alloys for the aerospace industry, including Concorde. Niigata-Turkoma was made from a resin bonded nickel-based powder, which in 1975 coincided with the development of Wiggin's new involvement in the production of superalloys and other products by powder atomisation. The commission was thus ideally suited to Paolozzi's aesthetic programme of creative cooperation between industry and art.
The ideas behind the expressionistic relief grew out of Paolozzi's visits to Hereford to see nickel alloys being made, and from conversations he had with the Wiggin people involved in their research and production. Paolozzi described Niigata-Turkoma as 'on one level classical shapes and proportions; on another the fusion of references such as scientific diagrams, imaginary cities, industrial complexes, models of processes, representing all the imagined and invisible forces harnessed and controlled in man's pursuit of refined metals' ('Paolozzi Bas-Relief for Nickel Alloy Manufacturer', Draft press release, nd., [1975-6], Paolozzi Studio Collection, Tate Archive, 105.14).
Niigata-Turkoma was Paolozzi's second major essay in the medium of bas-relief, after the ceiling panels commissioned by the architect Michael Spens for Cleish Castle, Kinross, Scotland (1972-3); and the internal aluminium relief panel doors for William Whitfield's Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow University, commissioned by Professor Andrew McLaren Young in the early 1970s and installed in 1980, but now sadly denied their intended design as functioning doors. The 'Wiggin Relief' Niigata-Turkoma also marks the debut of its maker Ray Watson (1940-2000), Paolozzi's supremely talented craftsman and model maker who became the sculptor's principal assistant and lifelong collaborator. Watson, who began to work for Paolozzi in November 1974 on the Hunterian doors, had previously worked with Fetherstonhaugh Associates, London, the designer of the Wiggin VIP conference and dining room in Hereford, where Niigata-Turkoma was given pride of place.
On 4 December 1974, Wiggin agreed to supply their 'metal and craftsmen to carry out the design' of a bas-relief; in exchange for which Paolozzi agreed to make two reliefs, one for the Wiggin dining room and one for himself, 'at no charge except expenses'. It was unlikely there was much material input from the Wiggin craftsmen, because by March 1975, Ray Watson had completed a virtuosic half-scale model of the relief in wood in three sections; and made a second model in wood at a reduced scale. By June 1975, the full-size master of Niigata-Turkoma in wood, was ready and priced for resin moulding to be cast by Derek and Patricia Freeborn Limited, East Horsley, Surrey, at a cost of £1,200. It was exhibited, together with the bronze and resin versions, as well as the related studies, in Eduardo Paolozzi New Reliefs and Sculpture at the Marlborough Gallery, London, in January 1976; and later that summer in the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, alongside the half-scale plaster models of the Hunterian doors. In 1974 Paolozzi also made two, or possibly three, full-size plaster versions of Niigata-Turkoma, one of which he gave in about 1978 to the architect Sir Denys Lasdun CH., which was sold in these rooms on 16 November 2007, lot 164. In 1998 Paolozzi presented a reduced-scale wood version of Niigata-Turkoma to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.
The title 'Niigata-Turkoma' is a reference to the Turkish immigrant community of West Berlin. When Paolozzi made the relief he was living for a year in the Kreuzberg district of the city, and using a disused clothing factory as his studio, which had been provided for him by the German government under the DAAD artists' scholarship scheme. Early in 1975 both the Nationalgalerie and Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin held major retrospective exhibitions of his work. A number of the prints Paolozzi made at this time - such as the series Kottbusserdam Pictures and Turkish Music - were also intended to reflect and evoke the contrasting language, sounds and music of Turkish culture, which he experienced during his residence in Berlin, and which after Paris where he lived in the late 1940s, he always spoke of a being the most creative and productive period of his career.
We are very grateful to Robin Spencer for preparing this catalogue entry.