In this months review I would like to look at two artists: Ruth Claxton and Laura White both of whom I met in the same day. In the morning I visited Ikon Eastside. Ruth is the first resident and has been working there since December. Eastside, a fairly battered factory building neighbouring the Custard Factory in Birmingham is an extension to the ever-growing Ikon empire. I was greeted by a host of Ruth’s works that filled the large space. Hundreds of steel rings in oscillating groups, intricately welded together and sprayed battleship grey. Some of the rings are filled with coloured mirrors reflecting the light and catching the frost melting drips that were sneaking into the industrial space. The third element to this work is the porcelain figurines. The figurines are the types that live on Great Britain’s mantelpiece. In some weird staged play where spotted kittens can inhabit the same scale and space as a dancing milk-maiden. They are bought from ebay and arrive at Ruth’s door to be ‘subjected’ to a type of bastardisation akin to Jake and Dino Chapman’s drawing on Goya’s prints. They are added to and in doing so they become Ruth’s works, they take on new meaning and live again in this hall of mirrors sculpture.
Ruth Claxton has exhibited widely and gained representation at Arquebuse Gallery, Geneva and has added her work to the collections of among others Frank Cohen. This show entitled Lands End will be opening at the Ikon on April and then travelling to Spike Island in 09 and her postcard works are at the Barber Institute from
After the interview I had to dash over the City and bridge the gap to Wolverhampton where I was late for a lecture by Laura White, Laura is also a sculptor, and her practice and methodologies in some respects mirrors (excuse the pun) Ruth’s and visa versa. Laura takes objects often as she finds them, arranges them and projects videos of nature onto them. The imagery can either be lifted from natural history documentary or primarily sourced this is not important. Having grown up in Worcester Laura’s roots are in the countryside, as extension of her growing up she is interested in the way nature is portrayed in the everyday, in urban living. Laura is fascinated by, dare I say it again, the bastardisation of nature by advertising, for example she points to the recent run on car adverts that morph into animals or are shown in some interaction with nature. In other works Laura has produced a series of sculptures entitled ‘small sculptures’ they feature cut outs from magazines pasted onto and obscuring the heads of toy animals. Again this is a critique of how TV, magazines and the Society of the Spectacle interact and feed of nature. These pieces are also physically similar to Ruth Claxton’s Porcelain pieces.
This physicality is the only real similarity, as artists their motives and ideas lie elsewhere but what I find interesting is the ‘image sifting’ (to use a phrase from my theory lecturer, John Roberts) of these two talented artists. In some ways they have become curators by selecting imagery, organising, adding to it and then showing it in a gallery space. They are showing us new works using gathered imagery in a new DJ style of shopping on ebay and googling images – mixing objects and material in new configurations of postproduction.
Laura White teaches at Goldsmiths and the Manchester Met, she is currently working on a new book.
Read the blog entries of two MA fine art students. Nathaniel Pitt and Chris Hodson are studying at Wolverhampton and Birmingham respectivly. This blog is a recording of their experiences in these two seats of learning