c.c. I’ve never seen any, which is strange. Completly aside from that. It just seems that once it is established in your work, this idea of multiculturalism is really important.
g.d. That’s what I mean about not wanting to travel to India and the far east. People expect me to want to go. My interest in other cultures is not the flora and fauna or social problems but what they put down on paper and has survived.
c.c. But if you go there you could experience it first hand.
g.d. London is full of Indians studying their own culture. Are you aware of how good our collections are, of how much material comes to London at auction? Also it’s such a hassle, if you went to Portugal tomorrow I bet that you couldn’t even ask for a loaf of bread.
c.c. ‘Pane’,’ pano’ something like that 29.
g.d. O.K. you win. No, I’m interested in, and motivated by, the two dimensional world, paintings, drawings, maps, books, photographs. I’d rather read a recipe than eat the meal. Books can have influences in the real world, think of the Koranic prohibition on image making, which isn’t actually in the Koran but in the Hadith, the teachings; that led the Arabs to explore geometry with such elaborate results in architecture, textiles and calligraphy.
c.c. So we are back to your old mix of geometry and eastern ideas.
g.d. I decided to make a big piece of work that involved something familiar to all periods and cultures.
c.c. Food? Sex?
g.d. No, Time. I had always been struck by calendars, how some cultures used the sun and others the moon as the determining factor for their year. I drew a line of 365 units and bent it into different shapes.
c.c. Geometric shapes?
g.d. Simple geometric shapes, circle, square, star, heart, twelve in all. These each represented the year, one unit per day. Into these I stuck little pins, these represented the lunar cycle, white map pins for full moons, black for no moon and half and half for the first and last quarters. I was hoping that the geometric shapes would provide a unifying link between the apparently unrelated cycles.
c.c. And did they?
g.d. Well, not exactly, but don’t forget that I was also making these experiments as paintings, or rather coloured drawings and having to make them convincing bits of paper visually regardless of the scientific intention.
c.c. This was THE SHAPE OF TIME series, was the name derived from the book of the same title?
g.d. No, Michael Kidner 30 put me on to that later, not in the begining. I wanted to call all of this work Naive Science, you know, like in naive art where you can stumble across something without knowing its value, so I thought you could apply the same thing to science and try to get a result, but if you read, up started doing research it wouldn’t be naive it would be amateur.
c c. So why didn’t you use the title, it sounds amusing.
g.d. Because you can’t strategize and be naive. People told me about other time systems in history, sent me articles, you know what it’s like if you teach, you’re surrounded by teachers who by nature pass on information. By the time I’d completed twelve paintings I was an expert on the shape of time and my pictures were really naive!
c.c. One of the things that changed at some point in here is that for the first period through to the early 80’s you were working in the country.
g.d. I was teaching part-time back at Corsham and living the country life but travelling around a lot in the vacations. Cind Oestreicher 31 and I would go off with other people and roam around European cities. In fact, I didn’t do much work in the late 70’s. I was being painted by Cind, fixing up an old house32 and travelling all the time.
30 English Constructivist artist. Born 1917
31 Anglo – American painter. Born 1961
32 Chequers in WItshire, where Day has lived since 1976.