Arts: Independent Collector: Marcus Richards

John Windsor's guide to contemporary art this week: Marcus Richards

MARCUS RICHARDS was the only British artist out of 3,587 entrants from 92 countries whose work was accepted for Japan's Osaka Triennale exhibition, this year devoted to sculpture. His 7ft by 4ft Full Circle, shown here, was awarded the silver prize.

Richards, 42, is a part-time tutor at the Byam Shaw School of Art, London, and has his own studio in Bow.

He says: "International and national opens are the only available showcases for artists who are not represented by galleries. But reluctance by gallery owners and curators to recognise their importance perpetuates the incestuous dominance of commercial over cultural values. This is short-termism - as history will prove".

The paradox of references triggered by his Full Circle, with strips of beech wood upholstered on top with black studded vinyl, not unlike a giant computer mouse, gave one of the five Osaka judges a sleepless night. Yaguchi Kunio, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, admitted to Richards: "At first, I thought it was a piece of Swedish furniture and rejected it. But that night I could not get it out of my mind and could not sleep. I looked at it again and had to accept it."

Richards says: "I enjoy perversity and humour. That is the point of access to my sculptures. They all have the feeling that they could be furniture, that they could exist in a domestic setting - and they all have to do with the way we want to possess things. I come from a poor background; we did not have a computer, but we did have furniture."

His prize money of pounds 22,000 has been used, in accordance with the tradition in Osaka, to purchase his sculpture, which is now in the permanent collection of Osaka's Contemporary Art and Culture Centre.

Richards' other sculptures include the 7ft-long Rocker, in wood and ceramic tiles, resembling an outsize electrical switch, and the 8ft-long Prototype 02, in wood and fibreglass, which could be mistaken for a not very handy TV remote. Prices from pounds 2,000.

Marcus Richards, 0171-336 0593; Osaka Triennale Bureau, 0081-6-447-7954

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