I don’t like rubber. 

I don’t like the way it seems to have its own mind and shift position without human intervention. I don’t like the way it smells.  I don’t like its touch. Nor the way rubber wheels are quiet when they roll.  I find this unnerving.

I don’t associate it with the qualities of intimacy or imagination or softness although I can perfectly understand that practitioners of exotic sensual experiences may disagree.  It is so overwhelming a material that it sucks the oxygen out of the room.  Nothing else seems ever to be used with it except twine or nails to hold it down and in place. 

And why is it always black?  

Why was it never evolved as bedding?  

I don’t think it knows how to ‘breathe’ like textiles.

And does it decay like all things?  Does it decompose and become unrecognizable? 

 As can be seen, in no time at all I can work myself up into a lather of anxiety about rubber.

One lovely thing has stayed in my mind about rubber.   Adam Nicolson, a grandson of Vita Sackville-West and George Nicolson, was describing the character of Odysseus. He was describing the sense of a particular Greek word, a characteristic of Odysseus.  He translated this word as a flexibility like that of rubber: strong and tensile.   It holds and it gives and it accommodates. But it does not break.  Adam Nicolson had made up his mind as an adolescent that this would be one of his own characteristics.  Lovely. 

Beyond this I am aware of its usefulness. Its unique usefulness, even.  But I still don’t like it.

 I have nothing much with which to warm it up.  Most nouns in the in the English language  which refer to something in the material world would be able launch a stream of pleasant consciousness in my mind in nano-seconds. But not rubber.  I think this is one of its great deficits.

 All to say that I make a special  effort to frequent rubber presented as art.  Just to see if I can warm to it.

But  I never do.  I did not care for this below.

See what you think.  

Chakaia Booker, born 1953, American was one of a handful of artists asked to inaugurate the renovated Renwick (Smithsonian Museum of American Art), Washington, DC in 2015.  The theme was Wonder.

Wonder, Chakaia Booker, 1953, The Renwick-1Wonder, Chakaia Booker, 1953, The Renwick-4Wonder, Chakaia Booker, 1953, The Renwick-5Wonder, Chakaia Booker, 1953, The Renwick-8Wonder, Chakaia Booker, 1953, The Renwick-2Wonder, Chakaia Booker, 1953, The Renwick-9


And here are works made of rubber by Helen Mason, American, at the Delaware Museum of Art, 2015.

Bikeline Fantasy, 2015, Helen Mason, Delaware Museum of Art-1Bikeline Fantasy, 2015, Helen Mason, Delaware Museum of Art-2

Bikeline Fantasy, 2015, Helen Mason, Delaware Art Musuem, two views

Tactile Reverberations, 2015, Helen Mason, Delaware Art Museum-1

Tactile Reverberations, 2015, Helen Mason, Delaware Art Museum-2Tactile Reverberations, 2015, Helen Mason, Delaware Art Museum-3

Tactile Reverberations, 2015, Helen Mason, Delaware Art Musuem, three views


The featured image is looking through Chakaia Booker’s work at The Greek Slave, 1844, created by Hiram Powers.  The Renwick Museum, Washington, DC. 2015

2 thoughts on “Rubber

  1. There are all kinds of rubber, natural and synthetic. Some rubbers do breathe. Foam rubbers occur in bedding. It’s just another material with a host of properties. I have a marvelous rubber sailing hat and the next time I see you I’ll draw the amazing rubber infused English oak bench at the Tate Modern.

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