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Glen Onwin: Flammable Solid/Flammable Liquid, 1994

This boxed publication was produced by the artist, Glen Onwin, in an edition of 100 to accompany an exhibition held at Tramway, Glasgow in March 1994. It contains over 30 separate items which document the show, including installation images, essays by Martin Kemp and Ian Rolfe and 5 glass vials of substances used in the work: salt, coal, oil, copper sulphate and iron pyrite.

The installation, Flammable Solid/Flammable Liquid is described in a short introductory text included in the box:

“The huge wall of coal fragments was the façade for a giant ‘painting’ of evaporated salt and glittering pyrite crystals. The salt was allowed to form these extraordinary shapes naturally, without any human interference. Similarly, the black wall of blue wax and salt opposite evaporated copper sulphate were created by the artist in collaboration with a naturally process. Their exact appearance was determined by the environment, the temperature and the instability of the materials themselves.”

Onwin has stated that he produced the box publication to ‘explore the various themes and ideas within the work by using varying approaches and techniques of reproduction from fine art printing, mass produced images to hand produced silver gelatine photographs and texts.’

Throughout his career, Onwin has worked with materials rich in cultural and historical meaning, evoking the ancient art of alchemy. In 1991, Onwin was invited by the Henry Moore Sculpture Trust to make an installation for the disused Square Chapel in Halifax.