c.c. And who did you depict as lo?
g.d. Look, the whole point of the piece is that the work is there on the wall, nothing is hidden, you bring to it what you have. Look, think and read as much as you like.
c.c. How did you simulate the jade discs?
g.d. I choose the ones that I wanted from a famous American collection, photocopied them at 100% then re-photographed them and printed them down using gum bichromate onto Somerset Satin paper which is tough yet bright. Then I marbled over the discs, trying to make patterns that related to the story or the person being depicted. I had already put them into a sequence that corresponded to the form of the moon’s discovery. Some weren’t known until the Voyager probe sent back images in the 80’s, Gallileo had previously discovered four. They have all been officially designated names from mythology. I identified with Ganymede, cup bearer to the Gods. Then I overworked the marbling with watercolour and screenprinted the carved decoration back in with diluted silver ink, waxed and polished them, trying to make them resemble the group on display in the British Museum.
c.c. And the names underneath?
g.d. The top line are the mythological names in gilded capitals, below those are the friend’s names in silver, Anna Currey 57 helped me spell the names in Greek, two are in white gold which should remain bright whilst in time the rest will tarnish. Finally underneath that are little numbers almost invisible in white, from 1 to 16. The whole ensemble is arranged so that the numbers add up to 34 which ever way they are totalled. This is the so-called magic square of Jupiter.
c.c. The final disc is different from all of the others, complete, without a blank space in the middle.
g.d. That’s Sinope, you will remember that as she frolicked on the shore she was seen by Jupiter who descended and in his attempt to seduce her promised that he would grant her whatever she desired.
c.c. Which was?
g.d. She asked to remain a virgin for the rest of her life.
c.c. I can’t help thinking of Duchamp. You know that the work is full of hidden meanings that are ungraspable, they can only be sensed.
g.d. That’s why he is so important, lots of people take from him, artists from very different camps, each chooses the bits that they think they relate to.
c.c. And you?
g.d. I got the bit about making very personal work in an impersonal way. I also made this collective portrait as a kind of final statement.
c.c. You’ve given up making things?
g.d. I don’t think so. I think I’m giving up the idea of being thought of as an artist, what does it mean these days?
c.c. So what are you going to do?
g.d. Take photographs, choose things, just grab things out of the air and possess them. Collect, study, understand; there are so many wonderful things spread out before our eyes like waves lapping on a beach. Repair things, undo accidents. Work in the garden, watch the sky change. Again Duchamp is the model, work away quietly, slowly, everyday, refine what it is that I think I’m about.
c.c. So how will you describe yourself?
g.d. Back in 1970 which is where we began, Michael Simpson 58 described me as part archivist and part alchemist.
c.c. You are an old hippy…
g.d. I’ve answered three questions and that is enough. Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs! 59
( Laughter all round )
END OF INTERVIEW
57 Irish writer and illustrator.
58 Anglo-Russian painter born in 1940
59 See the Father William poem in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol