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Don't forget - the Oil

Richard Wilson has described his installation 20:50 as both his 'party' and his 'megastar' piece.

Originally created in 1987 within Matt's Gallery, east London - a venue that specialises in site-specific art - 20:50 consists of a lake of used engine oil, a room flooded to waist-height with a shiny, reflective black mass, through which the viewer walks on a narrow, tapering jetty. Acting like a mirror, the oil reflects the ceiling of the gallery far beneath one's feet, producing a vertiginous and deeply disorientating effect of mid-air suspension - while the smell and tempting viscosity of the oil-liquid further unsettles and baffles one's immediate sensory impressions. Bought by Charles Saatchi in 1991 and now on permanent display in County Hall, 20:50 is an undeniably weird and thrilling experience, described by art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon as 'one of the masterpieces of the modern age.

Wilson's installations are always created on megalomaniac scale, though his publicly stated aim is relatively modest - to 'alter one's perceptions of space' by 'tweaking,'undoing' or 'changing'an (often vast) area of gallery or museum. By enlisting features of the building itself (a window, skylight, metal ceiling girders) and employing them within an installation, he transforms and exploits its very architecture. Away from the gallery, Wilson's bold distortion of the visual and built environment knows no bounds: a piece entitled Set North For Japan consists of a full-scale steel skeleton of his home in Streatham transplanted to a remote field in Japan... and turned upside down.

A Londoner by birth, Wilson will be 50 this year.

[this year means 2003, and the piece is no longer at the County Hall, unfortunately]