I am delighted to be showing a significant body of new works at Make Hauser & Wirth, Somerset.
The new work is concerned with industrial and agricultural buildings; their structural and sculptural qualities. I draw on the rightness and expediency of those forms to provide the basis for an exploration of the collecting cabinet as a furniture type.
In this series I continue to explore geometric arrangements and configurations of of mass and volume framed and held by linear structures as a response to the architecture of silos, sheds, gantries, and barns. Additionally, across this new body of work I expand on this repertoire to consider new ways of responding to the source material echoing material surfaces; shuttered sides, corrugations, slats, and cleft timbers considering how surface and form mutually shape one another.
Like the architecture they are grounded in, the idea of a front elevation is minimised. The functional interface of a grain silo is not dependent on a presentational facade, all sides of it can hold our interest. In my cabinets I have sought to break with the traditional format of sides merely providing volume and putting the front at the front. Working explicitly three-dimensionally also reinforces the idea of time as way of engaging with a piece as we consider it from multiple angles.
This is done in-the-round with individual pieces; by presenting multiple elevations of interest, but for groups of cabinets the idea of a population of pieces that we move amongst becomes more apparent. the group is fluid and speaks amongst itself suggesting correspondences and relationships and setting up all sorts of dynamics. This situation is analogous to the idea of a cabinet of curiosities housing a collection that itself suggests correspondences and relationships between objects. Things are made possible but not prescribed as we spend time with these pieces.
The work is rooted in a quite general idea of industrial and agricultural buildings. While some pieces stem from, or reference specific places in their titles, the forms and structures play with allusion and association rather than any hard and fast attempt at representation. With the multi-element piece, Yard, the oscillation between vagueness and reference-point has found a new settlement which is quite specific to this exhibition. I visited the gallery in the winter to discuss the show with Jacqueline. While staying near Bruton I spent time walking across hills and fields with my partner and our dog. Forming part of the landscape, the farm buildings, silos, barns, sheds, and towers provided rich visual food to photograph. Looking back through these and other photos over the coming months I was struck by the apparent strangeness and unfamiliarity of some of these sites. Not just wondering what each building or structure is for but the apparent chaos and randomness of each grouping as a whole. They make sense to those who work and live there and have seen places change as needs evolve through time, but to me, approaching from some random vantage becoming visible as an amalgam of forms, shapes, spaces, and avenues in that moment. This is what has emerged in Yard, over an extended period of making, an apparently chaotic assembly that is nonetheless interconnected has come together. Each piece has become entangled in the whole, a whole that shifts and changes as we move around and amongst it. This entanglement is extended and reinforced through the objects placed in the furniture.
For me, showing furniture in a gallery presents something of a paradox, or a duality to think around. On the one hand, I design and make pieces of furniture that have a particular presence, they are their own thing and have a certain autonomy; they can stand alone. On the other hand, I think it is very difficult to think about furniture without thinking of all the things furniture comes into contact with, those things help it become furniture. Furniture is contextualised by the building in which it sits, and by the things and objects that sit within it. It mediates outward and inward in a figure-ground relationship. That said, I do not often design pieces with a particular use in mind, this I hope will grow over time with the person who lives with it. So, the notion of vagueness resurfaces. This is why it will be both exciting and interesting to unpack, handle, place, display, reveal, and conceal the artworks invited to the show. All of them connected by the consideration and thought in their distinct ways of making, setting up associations, allusions, and correspondences amongst themselves and the furniture contingent on the perspective and random vantage of each viewer as shifting sightlines present chance meetings in a cabinet of curiosities.