LAST TRAIN : RON ARAD : LONDON : 2014 / by Suzie Jay

On Thursday 26th June 2014, Ron Arad opened his London studio to reveal large-scale diamond engravings created by Grayson Perry, Richard Wilson, Mat Collishaw, Sara Fanelli, Humphrey Ocean, Antony Gormley, David Shrigley and other leading artists. New works for 2014, joined the collection that was unveiled at the Venice Art Biennale in 2013.

The LED-illuminated engravings begin with the participating artist sketching on an iPad. The marks are interpreted in real-time by the Last Train app and sent to Arad's disembodied mechanical fist, which, bearing a Diacore diamond ring, scratch the design onto a large pane of glass.

Subverting the association of diamonds with luxury, Last Train responds to the toughness of these rare rocks.

Since the advent of glass panes in the 16th century, diamonds have scratched all manner of messages. Elizabeth I engraved love vows on bottles and jars with her ‘promise ring’ or ‘scribbling ring’, and Robert Burns wrote poems on glass panels with a diamond-tipped pen.

Ron Arad said of the collection: 

“It’s amazing to watch how each artist took to it in such a different way - from a self portrait, to some totally abstract scrawlings, to conceptual art. The spontaneous effect is interesting. People have to turn their hand to the iPad, and stick with the piece as it scratches in real-time on to the glass. There’s no going back; no rubbing out or painting over. The whole project is a sort of train, which set off from Venice and has collected a few more passengers on the way. While it stops in London, people can come and see the whole collection together.”

See Ron Arad discussing the collaboration in more detail