c.c. Was there, is there, a sense of conflict with Critchlow ?
g.d. I’ve given up on him. For years I defended him against people who called him a paranoid snob, a royal arse licker, but now I ignore him.
c.c. I can sense this is an issue but let’s not get sidetracked.
g.d. The majority of the pieces in the Tantra show belonged to Ajit Mookerjee 23 and when in 1977 I published a booklet demonstrating how to draw the Sri Cakra diagram I sent him a copy and we corresponded. He was enthusiastic and that set me back on track. I’d been a bit over nervous in earlier junking the multi-cultural approach.
c.c. What happened then?
g.d. Well, to try and resolve the problem of being fascinated by Indian ideas and needing to make my work within the means of my own culture I printed and bound the Sri Cakra book retaining an oriental structure like a concertina but printed it in crisp black lines on very white modern paper and this led me to make a series of objects where the form fitted the content like a glove, no packaging, refined down to the minimum for comprehension.
c.c. This is the cube with the letters on each face?
g.d. That’s called THE ALEPH. There’s a Borges short story about an object that shows the viewer everything in the world 24, and when I discovered that if you stacked up 27 cubes in a 3x3x3 way you wouldn’t be able to see the one in the middle which left 26 that were visible….
c.c. ….The alphabet.
g.d. 26 is a funny number, it has no obvious shape. So I painted the letters on the cube.
c.c. What about the cube in the centre, the invisible one?
g.d. Full stop, comma, question mark etcetera. Isn’t it funny how things reflect their time. I made these pieces 20 years ago before computers kicked in, messing around with lead type is strictly artisanal now but it wasn’t back then.
c.c. Don’t worry, it’s alright, it’s a retrospective, or as you’ve called it a retro-perspective. What’s the difference?
g.d. Retrospective means a backwards look. The things that I’ve made don’t look cohesive, they fall into groups that have looked at different ways of looking so it’s a backwards look at ways of looking.
c.c. Do you see this object group as English? Did it solve the dilemma?
g.d. What could be more English that the alphabet? Another one was a perpetual calendar coloured according to the English weather seasons. But it was more to do with reading, about thinking and wanting to give ideas shape. Imagine making a sphere, what would be the idea behind that?
c.c. As well as these English pieces you also made some books about people from other cultures.
g.d. The first one was THE GREEN LADY, I photographed from a T.V. documentary about the then most recognizable modern painting, a kitsch oriental woman.
c.c. By Tretchikoff 25
g.d. One of the sequences on the T.V. had the face blanked out, so I got that, enlarged it and screen printed off 20 copies that I bound up into a book and invited artists that I knew to do better by drawing a face on top.
c.c. Who did you get?
g.d. The first person I sent it to was Serge Stuffer in Zuric26 who sent it back with a small hole cut out of the middle and “I want to be f….. by Graham Day” scrawled in blue biro underneath.
23 Indian writer and collector. 1915 -1990
24 ‘The Aleph and other Stories’ 1933 -1969′. Jonathan Cape GB
25 Of which nothing seems to be known.
26 Swiss Duchamp scholar.