Darren Almond


Taking the portrait was a bit of a disaster. Jason and I were on the railway tracks outside my old studio, where I'm re-installing KN120, a sculpture of mine that was vandalized a couple of years ago. I'd chosen the tracks as the location because a number of my works use train imagery or refer to travel and time itself. Also, you can see the sculpture as you pass by on the Heathrow Express. We stopped a couple of passenger trains to take the photo, and as a result, Jason nearly got arrested by the transport police. When we finally finished dealing with them, the sun had set, so I have no idea what the portrait is like.

In this photo, I've got the newest and oldest works that I've done using frozen liquid silicone. Originally, I froze my sculptures in air. However, this caused the water to evaporate from the object, effectively freeze-drying it and reducing it to a pile of dust. This technique is very interesting, and I have used it in other pieces that have life cycles, but for the sculptures that I want to last, I found that the solu- tion was to freeze things in silicone oil, which remains liquid at 50 degrees centigrade and is chem- ically nonreactive. It is the same material used in breast implants, and to me that gives the tanks of silicone a kind of cybernetic-maternal quality.

The jar in my hand contains the first frozen flower I ever made, an iris, frozen in 1995. I went on to do a series of frozen-flower sculptures, including a whole garden for the Prada Foundation in Milan. All of these pieces live on a narrow ledge. If any of the numerous technical needs are not met, the sculptures sort of self-destruct. They are a bit like us, really. The frozen flowers appear fresh forever— as long as they are plugged in. It's a dependent eternity.

The other sculpture is Lucas 2001. Last year I had a son. In the days after his birth, I made a series of clay portraits of his head until I got one right. It was a way of physically getting to know him.