Alison Wilding’s In a Dark Wood (2012) is a large sculpture made of strips of reclaimed laminated iroko, a tough and durable hardwood often used for flooring, panelling and cabinetmaking, coupled with a number of acrylic spheres, which are lodged within.
The sculpture is part of a larger body of monocoque works – in which skin and structure inextricably coincide – that began in 1990 with Inland. These works have all been carefully built up, layer upon layer, out of sections of interlocking mirrored stainless steel or translucent PVC and acrylic. In a Dark Wood is a fascinating departure from these earlier works, as Wilding here explores the different qualities and visual effects of wood. Through discussion with Adam Kershaw, who fabricated the work, Wilding introduced a degree of randomness in contrast to the strict geometry of previous monocoque sculptures.
In a Dark Wood gives us two intersecting and enmeshed forms, which might suggest both the arboreal and anthropo- morphic. The title is drawn from the beginning of the first Canto of the ‘Inferno’ of Dante’s Divine Comedy: ‘In the middle of our life’s journey, I found myself in a dark wood, where the direct way was lost.’