Like his friends and colleagues Richard Long and Hamish Fulton, Roger Ackling belongs to the generation of artists who graduated from St Martins School of Art in the late 1960s challenging traditional notions of sculptural production. Sculpture, they decided, could be anything they wanted it to be: a walk in the Cairngorms; a bicycle ride through France, or in Ackling's case a small piece of wood marked by an invisible ray of light channeled straight from the sun.
For more than forty years Ackling has made all of his work by the same method: focusing sunlight through a magnifying glass to burn lines of tiny dots onto found and rescued materials: bits of driftwood, scraps of card, or most recently the contents of his garden shed: discarded wooden boxes and the handles of old tools.
It is a repetitive and ritualistic process: each mark, like a tiny sun, measuring the existence of a ray of light on its passage to earth from its source 93 million miles away. The objects that result have a strength and stillness that belies their often fragile or apparently lowly nature. They are objects with a rare and unexpected presence and the power to make quiet and sometimes humorous interventions that subtly alter the space around them.
"My intention was not to work metaphorically, or to illustrate, but paradoxically to set myself a task using parameters which seemed potentially limitless: time and space. I wanted t0 make a map, a visual belief structure that was a way forward for me… in the hope that something which was non visual could become visual, something potentially meaningless would become meaningful."
Roger Ackling was born in Isleworth, London in 1947, and studied at St. Martin's from 1965-1968. His work has been included in many public collections including those at Tate, the V&A and The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. He was recently one of the invited artists working in collaboration with particle and theoretical physicists at CERN European Organisation for Nuclear Research. He lives and works in Norfolk.