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Cross by Mary Martin (1907-1969)

painting of a shiney multifaceted cross on a black background

Stainless steel and painted wood on Formica and wood, made in 1969
Purchased in 1969 (No. 1787)

Joint first prize, John Moores 7, 1969

This sculptural work won joint first prize (with Richard Hamilton) in the 1969 exhibition. It was one of Martin's last works: she died before the exhibition opened. It is the culmination of a series, begun in the mid-1960s, in which she arranged small half-cubes, cut diagonally, on a square base. She placed them according to her own complex but regular permutation system, feeling that this enabled effects to emerge that she could never have imagined for herself. The sequences of diagonal planes massed against each other reflect both inner surfaces and outside light sources. They create a rich, vibrant effect somewhere between relief sculpture and a Cubist painting. Martin was the first woman to win the John Moores.