Chapter Arts Centre: Sticky Intimacy - 8 July 2016 to 18 Sept 2016
08.07.16 - 18.09.16
Katie Cuddon, Emma Hart & Nicholas Pope
Exhibition: 08.07.16 - 18.09.16
‘Sticky Intimacy’ brings together artists of different generations who each explore an inquisitive relationship to materials and making. The show is a conversation around shared formal and thematic approaches and, while the work is diverse, each artist makes sculpture that is resolutely un-monumental. In using materials such as glass, wood and clay — Cuddon, Hart & Pope translate their own circumstances and lived experiences into exuberant and highly emotive works.
Whether it is through a process of sculpting with clay, drawing or glass blowing, the body and its myriad of imperfections are mirrored in the wonky, the awkward and the asymmetrical, and all are tied to the intimacy of the handmade.
Katie Cuddon explores the materiality of clay and the physical engagement of the sculptural object. Her sculptures are known for their clotted, restless surfaces created from thin skins of clay that swathe and wrap themselves into voluminous forms. These figures are often awkward and bodily and their exteriors, largely painted, draw attention to the restless and slippery surfaces that mask a hollow interior. Slipperiness is also embedded within the ambiguity of the forms, which refuse to sit within a singular, fixed definition. The formalised interaction between objects, and between object and viewer, prompts us to contemplate the subjects they touch upon: issues of gender and sexuality, failure and shame, while the personal narrative through which the viewer interprets the work becomes highly significant.
‘Penumbra’, a life-size ceramic sculpture, suggests a faceless spectre in the gallery. The powdery, pinched surface intonates somebody trying to get the measure of this figure, as if repetitious squeezing, kneading, feeling, might release its contents or help to understand it better.
‘Leg Plough’ vacillates between humour and melancholy. A pair of legs – both frail and cumbrous – evoke frustration, of materiality battered by the tide of entropy and the ever-present threat of collapse.
Emma Hart’s works are marked by a chaotic aesthetic that disrupts the viewing process, and captures the nagging anxieties of daily life.
She uses materials to reference awkward experiences and by doing so creates visual spillages that teeter between control and disarray. Ceramic outlines of wine glasses tip ceramic drinks against the gallery wall. These pools are simultaneously speech bubbles and sick that erupt from the mouth shapes that Hart has bitten in to the clay.
The works are raw – ceramic arms throw punches, curl around the body and mop up tears; legs that sweat, malleable and marked, are captured in prints that are inserted into glazed clay. Sculptures of hair nod to tensions between looseness, control and stasis. The long hair here is held by oversized scrunchies that make an unconvincing attempt at taming already static fired clay.
Hart deftly shifts the space that is occupied by the viewer using narratives that are at once public and also deeply private.
Like that of many of his peers who emerged in the 1970s, who were preoccupied with finding a new and distinctive sculptural language, Nicholas Pope's work marked a disassociation from an earlier generation and he began to be known for using mainly natural materials, which he carved, or more simply, stacked and assembled.
Following his 1980 exhibition representing Britain at the Venice Biennale, Pope visited Zimbabwe and Tanzania: an experience that affected the rest of his life and twisted his artistic practice completely.
In a move towards softer, more malleable materials such as glass, porcelain, textiles, moulded aluminium and ceramics, Pope began to make abstract works that reference complicated themes of spirituality, suicide and society.
In this exhibition, Pope has worked with master glassmaker James Maskrey from the National Glass Centre, Sunderland, to create a new series of fourteen chalices inspired by the Seven Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins. Working from the artist's original drawings, the chalices translate mark making into glass blowing, manifesting a complex relationship between artist and maker. With the drawings displayed alongside the chalices, audiences are offered a unique opportunity to see this translation in proximity.
About the artists
Nicholas Pope graduated from Bath Academy of Art in 1973. He has represented Britain at the Venice Biennale and participated in 'British Art Now, An American Perspective' at Guggenheim Museum, touring across America (both 1980). In 1996 he showed 'Apostles Speaking in Tongues' at Tate Britain, recently re-exhibiting the sculpture at Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury (2014). In 2013, he held a solo exhibition at New Art Centre, Roche Court Sculpture Park, Salisbury. Also in 2013 Ridinghouse published an extensive monograph on the artist. Pope was included in 'United Enemies: The Problem of Sculpture in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s' at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK (2011). Pope's work is included in many public collections including Arts Council Collection, Kroller Muller Museum, Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Tate, Wakefield Art Gallery and Walker Art Gallery amongst others.
Katie Cuddon lives and works in Newcastle. She graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2006 and now teaches Fine Art at Newcastle University. Her solo exhibitions include ‘Pontoon Lip’ (with Celia Hempton), Cell Project Space, London (2014); 'Waiting For The Cue', Simon Oldfield Gallery, London, UK, 'Spanish Lobe', Ceramics Fellow, Camden Arts Centre, London, UK (2011); 'I no longer know what the money is', Alma Enterprises Gallery, London, UK (2010). Selected group exhibitions include 'The Stone of Folly', Downstairs, Hereford, UK, 'Studio Voltaire Members Show', London, UK (both 2012); 'Friendship of the Peoples', Simon Oldfield Gallery, London, UK (2011), 'Spazi Aperti', Accademia di Romania, Rome, Italy, (2009).
In 2010 Cuddon was awarded the inaugural ceramics fellowship at Camden Arts Centre and she was the Sainsbury Scholar in Sculpture and Drawing at the British School at Rome in 2008/09.
Emma Hart received an MA in Fine Art from Slade School of Art and completed her PhD in Fine Art at Kingston University in 2013. She is a lecturer on BA Fine Art at Central Saint Martins.
Her recent exhibitions include 'Sticky', Austrian Cultural Forum, London (2015); 'Giving It All That', Folkestone Triennial (2014) and 'Dirty Looks', Camden Arts Centre (2013). Group exhibitions include 'SUCKERZ', L'etrangere, London (2015) with Jonathan Baldock, and 'Only the Lonely', La Galerie CAC Noisy Le Sec, France (2015). She is the 2016 recipient of the Max Mara Art Prize.
‘Sticky Intimacy’ is curated by Hannah Firth for Chapter and is developed in partnership with Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA), Sunderland. 'Baldock Pope Zahle' formed the first part of this exhibition diptych and was initiated and curated by George Vasey for NGCA. Nicholas Pope’s ‘Seven Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins’ were originally commissioned by NGCA for ‘Baldock Pope Zahle’ that was also generously supported by Sunderland City Council, The National Glass Centre, The Henry Moore Foundation, C'Art, Arts Council England, and Grosserer L.F. Foghts Fond.