Ruth Claxton is concerned with ways of seeing, what can be perceived, and what may be beyond our comprehension. This, her second solo exhibition in Scotland and her first at Ingleby Gallery, presents a group of 9 recent works (previously shown at the Barber Institute in Birmingham earlier this year). Working with postcards of historical paintings, Claxton explores the nature of ‘the Gaze’ – the real and implied visual relationships between figures within the picture, and between the subject and the viewer. By manipulating the top layer of the postcard and slicing into the surface, she creates entirely new artworks which, with their intricate patterns, simultaneously entice and frustrate. Her current touring exhibition Lands End, considers these ideas in a different form, through a site-specific installation of found ceramic figurines arranged atop configurations of myriad mirrored pedestals, their heads disappearing beneath dazzling clouds of plasticine and glitter. Throughout Claxton’s work is a tension which the critic Sally O’Reilly has called: “an unresolved push and pull between extremes that result in an extraordinary ingenuity”. Claxton’s postcards hover in an ambiguous territory between two dimensions and three, the auspicious survivors of a process plagued by inherent failure – one quick slice of the scalpel blade can instantly finish an individual work - in either the greatest or worst sense of the word! Claxton describes the parallel dynamics in making her sculptural installations and these cards thus: Adapting some of the figurines is a really painstaking process. Carrying the pattern over the surface or duplicating intricate detail can take ages. Then sometimes it is about being spontaneous and getting a bag of rubbers and then sticking them on with a glue gun and I quite like this difference. It’s the same with the postcards: you can make three cuts and peel. That’s it. Then other times you are sitting there cutting meticulously and they tear…It makes me engage with the physical limitations of the object - Ruth Claxton in conversation with Marie Ann McQuay, Curator at Spike Island. Bristol in the publication Lands End (Ikon Publications) Ruth Claxton: Lands End opened at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham in April 2008 and tours to: Oriel Davies Gallery (11 Oct-29 Nov); Spike Island, Bristol (Jan 31-Mar 15 ‘09) and Grundy Gallery, Blackpool (Mar-Apr ‘09). Ruth Claxton is represented by Arquebuse, Geneva.
Ruth Claxton: Postcards