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a life in architecture

richard deacon

Hansel and Gretel's edible house in the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm comes top of sculptor Richard Deacon's list. He is intrigued by 'the way inside and outside are transformed in consumption' when the children break off bits and eat them. From fiction to the 'environmentally awful Westway', the Paddington flyover, one of the roads he likes driving on because it seems to be superimposed on the city and cuts so close to the buildings on either side, giving views of tower blocks and terraced housing. And the Hammersmith flyover takes him past Erskine's Ark which he likes for 'the eccentricity of its construction, it seems to be upside-down.'

Then two examples of remarkable engineering: Brunel's bridge over the Tamar, supported on two oval steel tubes, and his Great Western Railway between Plymouth and Exeter, particularly the section at Dawlish where it runs along the cliffs through a series of tunnels close to the sea.

A very early sculptural memory is of a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka, where rock was cut back to form three massive Buddhas. Experiencing this hollowed-out space made a profound impression on seven-year-old Deacon. 'It was the first time I thought about the way things made affected things natural, because it was a carving rather than a building - there was a strong sense that this was a place that someone had made.'

Richard Deacon's exhibition 'New World Order' is at the Tate Liverpool until 16 May

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