For an artist, taking inspiration from the human figure guarantees both a wealth of source material to explore and a direct line to your audience. Empathy, shock, joy, intrigue, dismay, compassion; how will we respond? In ‘Narrative Figures’ four artists offer a snapshot of the human condition as they find it today.
Neil Brownsword gathers shards of domestic china along with loosely cast forms from discarded commercial moulds and other pieces of ceramic detritus to complete his animated compositions. The powerful resonance of troubled minds cannot fail to provoke but Brownsword intends a hopeful prompt, to jolt us from the downward spiral and ask: ‘What would it be like to really ‘live’ life?’
Living life to the full is a theme explored in Craig Mitchell’s fantastic sculptures, but are the colourful characters enhanced through genetic modification or the tinted lens of a glossy advertising campaign? Mitchell’s work often reverses the spin to expose the truths behind our modern fairy tales.
Claire Heathcote’s delicate embroidered portraits capture modern life in mid gesture. The impact of her faces – images gleaned from magazines and reduced to a collection of graphic planes and simple outlines – is strangely amplified by the relative intimacy of embroidery. Occasional loose threads connect us to the making process and trail across the surface like a line of thought left unresolved.
Strong features and simplified gestures draw us into the theatrical world of Eleanor Glover’s wooden sculptures. Her dramas are loaded with dream-like imagery, towering structures, figures peering from windows and ladders offering the only escape. Glover often pairs her troubled wooden souls with an inquisitive bird, and a welcome relief is delivered as her figures burst forward towards freedom, and feathered companions take flight.
It is increasingly held that the crafts have much to offer in our global, virtual world. Consider the intelligent, engaging and tangible works gathered together for ‘Narrative Figures’ and this proposition seems entirely possible.
Julia Pitts 2003
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