Royal College of Art Sculpture 2014

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Sculpture 2014 Royal College of Art

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Royal College of Art Sculpture 2014

Edition of 1000 copies printed on the occasion of the Sculpture 2014 Degree Show, 18 – 29 June 2014 Royal College of Art, 15-25 Howie Street, London SW11 4AS

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Jordan Baseman Denise de Cordova Mel Jordan Nigel Rolfe

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Adriano Amaral Stefania Batoeva Gabriel Birch Josephine Callaghan Robert Cervera Julia Curtin Mark Essen Anna Flemming Freya Gabie Rodrigo Garcia Dutra Charlie Godet Thomas Katrin Hanusch Richard Hards Theo Harper Russell Hill Josie Hillman Vesta Kroese Seul Lee Beatrice Lozza Christopher Minchin Ne탑a Agnes Momirski Alida Sayer Yves Scherer David Teager-Portman Jason Thomson Yan Di Wang Newton Whitelaw Jonathan Williamson Tian Zhu




Jordan Baseman

How to Handle Tornado Stress

Head of Sculpture

Tornado preparedness activities are commonplace in the Mid-Western states of America where I grew up. Media alerts, emergency announcements, school and neighborhood practice-drills, and government funded public-service advice posters are located within the basic fabric of daily-life in that part of the world. Some of that advice is particularly useful when thinking about how to be an artist, how to make art, the process of art-making and its impact on those who are closest to us: Pre-Tornado Stress Experts say waiting for an impending Tornado can produce plenty of anxiety. Prepare as best you can. Taking action to protect yourself or your family can help restore a sense of control. Exercise – it’ll help relieve stress build-up. Nerves will be on edge. Be patient. Accept that the Tornado will do what it wants.


You are powerless against the storm. Be safe, but don’t feel as if you have to put everything in your life on hold. Go about your normal business as much as possible. Determine what’s really important. Bear in mind that other people’s viewpoints on what should be considered top priority may be different from your own. There may be casualties. Prepare yourself and those around you for this possibility. Post-Tornado Trauma The Tornado is gone. If your psyche seems to be in as much need of repair as your shredded home, you’re suffering from Post-Tornado Trauma. Don’t expect things to instantly restore themselves. Accept that restoration (both physical and especially emotional) takes time. It is natural to express disbelief, anger, sadness, anxiety and depression afterward a storm. Realize that emotions will roller coaster and mood can change unexpectedly.

The signs of Post-Tornado Trauma are not always immediate; the emotional effects may not appear for months. Recovery time may vary. Stress takes its toll not only on those hit directly by the storm, but also on those who made it through physically unscathed. Mental health experts say the unscathed often suffer Survivor’s Guilt. People suffering Survivor’s Guilt often push themselves to the limit trying to help. The key to dealing with Post-Tornado Trauma is to understand that after the loss of normalcy, loved ones and property there is a natural grieving process; denial, questioning, acceptance and recovery. This is a process. Recognize and accept your feelings. Realize you’re not alone. Talk to others. Be patient. Accept that restoring your life to normalcy will take some time. Keep family meals as nourishing as possible. Maintain routine as much as possible. Try to sleep.


Relax. Take a deep breath. Stretching helps reduce tension and stress. Whenever possible, do something enjoyable. Read a book. Go to the movies. Walk. Jog. Hug your family and friends. Affection can be soothing. If your stress symptoms persist, seek professional help. The artists in this publication have weathered many storms to be where they are. All artists do this. Making art is not always easy. Of course, neither is preparing for and living through a Tornado. They are not the same, but...

Denise de Cordova Tutor, Sculpture

A Love Letter (of Sorts)

May 22nd 2014 The day’s events: 334 BC: The Macedonian army of Alexander the Great defeats Darius III of Persia. 1826 AD: HMS Beagle departs on her first voyage. 1933 AD: Loch Ness monster first sighted by John Mackay.


Dear J,A,M1 In your invitation to contribute to your catalogue, you described me as “the lemon in the drink.” A sharp flavor located somewhere in the background? Mmm, I think this is probably a compliment. So, I mull over the implications of being compared to a slice of citric fruit; Ornament? Acid tongued? Invisible ink or bleach? A hard colour to wear unless you’re a bird or a fruit? It’s the surprising comments that intrigue and linger in the imagination, that have a way of shaping ideas and vision. Especially if they grate, mirror doubt, or illuminate a hunch. For me, that’s what being involved with you all at the RCA is all about. Reciprocity, the unknown, and the delight all your work provides me. I love and fear art; what it can be, what it can do, how it perplexes and challenges. I want it daily, and I believe it profoundly matters as a measure of the best in humanity. It doesn’t make it easy though.

1 Jam: to press or squeeze, to bruise or crush by pressure, to make firm by pressing, as land is trodden hard by cattle, to extemporize, improvise, jam up: thoroughly, excellently, perfectly. A conserve of fruit prepared by boiling it up with sugar to pulp.


I’m not sure if I’m blessing or cursing you when I hope your art-adapted eyes are changed irrevocably, and that your curiosity is never sated. And act on this, give substance to your curiosity. OK, so this getting a bit Yoda or David Carradine (take your pick – it’s a generation thing), but I mean it. Another reason for being asked was my ability to work on a kitchen table, a fate of many years. You can make work anywhere, what ever your circumstances. Creativity is a journey, with or without a budget. Twyler Tharp nails it for me: “Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” May you all continue to run away, and make excellent and unusual jam. With love, Denise

Mel Jordan

The Transformation of Sculpture

Senior Tutor, Sculpture

Sculpture has long been accepted as the space in which key ideas around the body and performance, public art (thereby ‘the social’), video, space and site, and the ‘viewer’ have emerged. For sure, sculpture is and has always been concerned with materials and objects but what if we begin to imagine these ‘materials’ and ‘objects’ differently, or more specifically, is there a way to consider them socially? Let me explain, instead of considering what constitutes the category of sculpture as Krauss’ does in her 1979, essay Sculpture in the Expanded Field, let us think about sculpture by considering the ‘material conditions of sculpture’. That is to say we take into account the social organization of sculpture; we understand the actual method, terms, determinants, matter, materials, technologies, skills and types of labour and objects socially. Namely sculpture’s mediations for the reproduction of society or in other words sculpture’s contribution to the way we want to live.


No doubt Krauss’ ‘expansions’ are useful and her contribution clarifies sculpture’s position in comparison to say the category of painting at a particular moment in history. However, the drawback of her idea is that it is still locked into the internal logic of formalist art; it works to increase the amount of formal considerations and constituents of sculpture rather than transforming the practice of sculpture. In this way she maintains Greenberg’s logic outlined most emphatically in his essay Modernist Painting (1960), in which he says: What had to be exhibited was not only that which was unique and irreducible in art in general, but also that which was unique and irreducible in each particular art. Each art had to determine, through its own operations and works, the effects exclusive to itself.

Hence Greenberg’s belief that a painting must be made up of what it is made up of and nothing else (this is one method by which he rejects illusionism) is thus modified by Krauss for sculpture. The point is for Krauss that the category of sculpture must be made up of more things than we first thought it was made up of, accordingly Krauss extends sculpture by addressing sculpture’s relationship to architecture and landscape. One of the errors Krauss makes is to overlook the importance of the body in sculpture. She fails to discuss the artist’s body or the viewer’s body and in doing so neglects the ‘material conditions of sculpture’ within this conjecture. Let’s face it, Krauss’ enlargement of the field disregards social practice. Take Duchamp’s Fountain, an existing ceramic urinal nominated through titling as a fountain; Fountain is not an object to be viewed passively, or considered formally, but an object that does something in the world. Let’s not forget that Fountain’s rejection by the selection panel for the Society of Independent Artists exhibition in 1917 exposes a set of expectations for art that were hitherto denied and opens up the debate about the hidden aspects of what was and is acceptable as art.


And Marina Abramović certainly uses her body in a tradition of endurance that conjures up Houdini, but objects, their function and their materiality are also vital to her performances. In The Artist is Present (2010), she asks audience members to sit opposite her at a table. The table present in the work is transformed into a spatial barrier between her and the ‘volunteer sitter’, in this context the table denotes specific hierarchies of artist and audience, guest and host and it’s place in this social exchange reminds us that the meaning of an object is determined by the social context in which it is placed. The way I see it is that the only way to ‘extend’ sculpture is by transforming the apparatus of art; to reconfigure arts methods, processes, various institutional, physical and administrative mechanisms and knowledge structures. I suspect that sculpture today should be about moving ‘things’ around in the world, putting your body where it matters and sticking your neck out.

Nigel Rolfe Senior Course Tutor in Fine Art


Keep Everything Making by assembly and brought together Built Constructed and formed Cast, fashioned, shaped or found All conditions material They are stand-ins or metaphors Poetries perhaps But also obstacles and resistances Functional as furniture or garment Architectures and vehicles Complicated as can be Manufactured in complexity by factory Or when in simplicity Shaped by individual hand Made, by man, by woman Manufactured Placed to sit or stand or hang Formal Then installed or simply resting informally The world of things


We invest them with value and worth They fill our homes from attic to basement When we journey, they travel with us in pocket and on back in bag or in box Always surrounding us in their supporting role Perhaps as markers Or reassurances as our time runs down We turn back to them Unchanging Doing their job Simply being there. High culture and low culture Museum or carnival, Archive or haberdashery What is in play when we make things What do we propose What is our interest What our investigation Overcrowded world with too many things already and all that has gone before and still remains.

Please Pay

Make Do and Mend

In Art we strive for the unique, the once off, the primary – we over price and over value as part of the process of elevation in claiming worth. We trade and then invest in holding and keeping these art things we have singled out as significant markers of our time and place. They stand in the landscape or city as monuments or closer to us inside in cultural hierarchies of the state who safeguard them for us and then privately in office or house. We sell and buy and trade, we are arbiters and brokers, archivists but traders.

The haves and the have-nots Questions of demographics and hierarchy Geo-politics from the rich and the then the poor Some throw away the broken But others fix things up and Fix them again Whilst the affluent consume Those impoverished make from frugal means Get by with what they have in hand To be a mender A repairer A fixer-up Is everyday Recycle is not a liberal environmental thesis A hammer is a screwdriver A bicycle is a truck A basket is for everything We have and we hold, but then we want more. Just what hat do we need to get by? We are And then again We have Still lives in landscapes And portraits And abstract thoughts



Adriano Amaral

Adriano Amaral was born in 1982 in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil. After his MA at Royal College of Art he is going to start a two years residence at De Ateliers in Amsterdam. Recent exhibitions include Soft Matter (solo) at Space in Between, A Sense of Things at Zabludowicz Collection, Open Cube (curated by Adriano Pedrosa) at White Cube. He has also exhibited extensively throughout Brazil, most recently in Aparição at Athena Contemporânea and Brutalidade Jardim at Marília Razuk.


Stefania Batoeva


Gabriel Birch

My practice addresses the constructed nature of reality; the artworks explore­ the economic, political and virtual networks that define the contemporary experience. I am engaged with understanding the individual subject’s aesthetic relationship to these systems and structures; questioning the thresholds between public, private and fictional spaces. The screen has been an important motif for this research with its simultaneous capacity to rupture and occlude, and its ability to offer escape, whilst guaranteeing surveillance and alienation. Much of my work draws its inspiration from the urban environment; I treat the City as an extension of the studio as


well as a site for performance. I attempt to create a space of encounter, by harnessing the latent power permeating mass media and architecture; it is a stage for the viewer to re-enact and reflect upon their everyday social participation within these archetypes. The practice manifests through a wide range of processes and materials from improvised objects and architectonic structures to photography, film and durational performance. These works are arranged together as expanded installations, which propose links and juxtapositions celebrating the contemporary abundance of material and information, whilst mourning the deficit of this luxury.

Josephine Callaghan


Robert Cervera

‘I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. (…) Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor – and surviving.’


Julia Curtin


Mark Essen


Anna Flemming

‘There is not one single invention of [Nature’s], however subtle or impressive it may be, that the human spirit cannot create; no forest of Fontainebleu or moonlit scene that cannot be produced with a floodlit stage set; no waterfall that hydraulics cannot imitate so perfectly as to be indistinguishable from the original; no rock that papier-mâché cannot copy; no flower that specious taffetas and delicately painted papers cannot rival! There is no doubt whatever that this eternally self-replicating old fool has now exhausted the good-natured admiration of all true artists, and the moment has come to replace her, as far as that can be achieved, with artiface.’ Joris-Karl Huysmans, Against Nature


Freya Gabie

+44 7581 207723

I focus on the tentative and peripheral, I excavate in order to know what survives.


Rodrigo Garcia Dutra

My artistic research practice traces back moments in time that influenced the aesthetics of the world and how we perceive it today. I build a collection of facts, found objects, gifts and places where I travel. I then re-work these through drawing, painting, bronze casting, charcoal tracings, video editing and arrangement/re-arrangement of them in the space. ‘It will be apparent to anyone who has ever made such a [ritual] gesture that we recognize ourselves in them, and only in them: only in piano playing, only in painting, only in dancing does the player, the painter, the dancer recognize who he is. It is a founding


principle of Zen Buddhism that selfrecognition can be a religious experience, if the recognition is of the ‘whole’ self: its rituals (tea drinking, flower arranging, board games) are therefore sacred rites. Certainly the greatest discovery of Jewish prophesy is that religious experience is an experience of the absurd, the groundless, that “God” is manifest as that which is inexplicable, indefensible, ‘good for nothing else’: hence its battle against magic and its insistence on the absurd rite, with no aims that make any sense.’ Vilem Flusser, Gestures (1991), 2014, trans. by Nancy Ann Roth, Minneapolis, p.134.

Charlie Godet Thomas

The expression that there is nothing to express, nothing with which to express, no desire to express, along with the obligation to express.1 Charlie Godet Thomas explores images and objects transforming them through the antithetical use of sculpture, installation, collage and photography. More interested in the tone of a work than confining it to a particular medium or genre, he works in a language of contradictions – humour and melancholia, the two-dimensional and the sculptural, reduction and assemblage, design and the incidental, the personal and the universal. His works, just as life is, are a product of these oppositional forces. I translate the everyday through making, revealing that it is at once sad and delightful, ‘our greatest blessing and most despicable complacency.’ 2 Dr. Melanie S J Francis, 2014

1 Samuel Beckett, from the Duthuit Dialogues. 2 The artist quoting Ben Highmore, Ordinary Lives ‘Midwives and morticians, paupers and princes, go about their everyday lives. Everything can become everyday, everything can become ordinary: it is our greatest blessing, our most human accomplishment, our greatest handicap, our most despicable complacency.’


Katrin Hanusch

There is a shadow without object. With the sudden death of my brother, the dense closed entity of reality – the wholeness – was cleaved into many layers. It split apart and opened chasms through which a placid darkness arose and infinity constantly seemed to breathe. There was hollowness between all things and materiality collapsed into it. The universe seemed to be present within both: the porous thick skin of reality perpetually renewing itself and fraying out into nothing. The confrontation with absence is abstract. Time and space become irrelevant. It is difficult to think of an obvious contradiction, of something that is and is not at the same time: the substance of the shadow that I can’t touch.


I merge and knead little lumps and bits; a brittle part next to a smacking lump. Every material is tightly tied to life and death and stretches between both – its language refers always to its opposite movements: in/out, birth/death, growth/ gravity. Thomas Aquinas wrote that nothing can be found in the intellect that has not been present in the senses first. In the process of sensation and reflection, absence is always located in a no-where space. Between this imaginary presence through deviations, echoes and resonances caused by a faded life and the quavering sounds of the external world, I set up my studio space. Here, I write and play with what I have. I experiment and improvise, while time is running out.

Richard Hards


Theo Harper


Russell Hill


Josie Hillman

‘I’ll show you the manner of it. This shoe is my father; no, this left shoe is my father; no, no, this left shoe is my mother; nay, that cannot be so neither: yes, it is so, it is so; it hath the worser sole. This shoe, with the hole in it, is my mother, and this my father. A vengeance on’t! There ‘t is: now, sir, this staff is my sister; for, look you, she is as white as a lily and as small as a wand: this hat is Nan, our maid: I am the dog; no, the dog is himself, and I am the dog; O! the dog is me, and I am myself.’ Two Gentlemen of Verona


Vesta Kroese

You could say that Vesta’s work is rooted in architectural discourse in the context of exhibition and display. Through corrupting and playing with the origin and logic of places, people, things and the self, artworks challenge preconceptions and encounters within the social environment. This approach could be seen as both pragmatic and poetic, balancing conceptual and sensual immediacy, engaging untouched or slightly modified found objects as well as identified places in provisional situations. It informs an ongoing questioning of being in the world and putting forward possible alternatives for thought. Born in The Netherlands, Vesta


holds an MSc in Architecture from the Technical University of Eindhoven. Recent exhibitions include Work for Galleyway, Hockney Gallery, London 2013 and In Search of the Miraculous, Floating Island Gallery, London 2014. Awards include the Desmond Preston Drawing Prize Royal College of Art, 2013 and the Start Stipend Fonds BKVB, Amsterdam 2008. Vesta undertook residencies at PAIR, Drenthe 2011 and Badgast (Satellietgroep), The Haque 2010. Site related work in the public realm include Thomas Aquinas or You? at the Round Chapel London and Here/ There commissioned by Centre for the Arts and Foundation North – South, Rotterdam.

Seul Lee


Beatrice Lozza

mountain high forget me not stones floating in the sea


Christopher Minchin

I wanted to touch God’s finger.


Neža Agnes Momirski

Neža Agnes Momirski is a Slovenian born artist living in London, UK, and Rotterdam, NL. She graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam, 2012. Drawing from semiotics, philosophical, sociological, psychoanalytic theories, Neža’s work reflects upon the influence of language, objects, visual aesthetics, and cinematic narrative structures on perception of reality and self-identity. Through film narratives and works in forms of installations, drawings and sculptures, she explores the intertwining of collective and personal within the psyche. Her films outline fictional orders, defined by objects and signs, addressing notions of communication, virtuality,


control and memory. Her solo shows include Communication device, 5 jaar Leerling/Meester project, Museum de Pont (Tilburg, 2013), Process of a repetitive thought, SingerSweatShop Gallery (Rotterdam, 2011). Recent group shows include CKOM, Ram foundation gallery (Rotterdam, 2014), SHOWcabinet Maison Martin Margiela, SHOWstudio Gallery (London, 2013), Inf. Ins., Leeszaal Rotterdam West (2013), Inside the house, Kunstpodium T Gallery (Tilburg, 2012), and others in Kunstinzight Rotterdam, Picture This (Bristol), Tent Rotterdam. She’s a recipient of a grant by Ministry of Culture in Slovenia, and a grant by Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds in the Netherlands.

Alida Sayer

Sinking beneath the surface, into a secret etymology of marks and matter made transparent. A meaning that we sense but cannot hold with our senses. I try to read between the lines, to write the inner book.


Yves Scherer


David Teager-Portman

David Teager-Portman (b. 1987) is a sculptor from the north of England, currently based in London. He recently exhibited at Turner Contemporary Margate and The Wilson in Cheltenham, he has also previously been selected for the Saatchi Gallery New Sensations, the Coutts Sculpture Prize, The Catlin Guide, and twice for The Open West. His work is dreamlike, juxtaposing subconscious evocations with traditional associations. His sculptures are a combination of figurative representation,


symbolist elements, memory and illustration. The latest body of work tells abstract stories or fables, communicating direct as well as ambiguous and duplicitous meanings. These stories are manifested as sculptural illustrations, stimulating the viewer’s imagination. His work also recognises the tradition of statues; how they communicate narratives and values. Whilst being contemporary his work acknowledges the history of sculpture and the value of craftsmanship.

Jason Thomson

I am concerned with the transient and ephemeral nature of existence, much of experience is intuitive, that is beyond rational perception. I manifest this latent primordial awareness through installation and performance. I am curious that individually and collectively our journeys become woven into narratives, the threads of which are revealed, concealed and transformed through a process of memory, being, doing and making.Â


Yandi Wang

‘I do not know which to prefer, The beauty of inflections Or the beauty of innuendoes, The blackbird whistling Or just after.’ Wallace Stevens


Newton Whitelaw

Sling-skin, shells and prophylactics sing. Up rolled spermaceti white. Hart collapsed on green glass clear. Eyes trace bark to where fiction rubbed out. Our trunk has human girth.


Jonny Williamson

+44 7796 303910

My practice is located in the space between sculpture and architecture. I think of architecture in the broadest sense, as the study of structures underlying the tangible and experiential. We can read the built environment as a cemetery of creative impulses; instant monuments to the philosophy and style of a particular time. But as art pulls away from the monumental how can it continue to have a dialogue with architecture? I like to explore this question through a practice of reduction and abstraction; by understanding architecture as a simple extension of object making. An imaginative possibility would be to pare down sculpture and architecture to a common syntax of form, function and historical narrative.


Zhu Tian




Jordan Baseman Denise de Cordova Sarah Staton Mel Jordan Kate Davis John Frankland Graham Hudson Jaspar Joseph Lester Jack Tan Momo Rahim Emma Russell Irene Gunston Drew Cole Steve Brennan Steve Bunn Nick Lott Colin Mander Paul Keene Tom Railton Nigel Rolfe Stuart Croft Lucy Soutter Jonathan Miles Chantal Faust Michael Schwab Gareth Polmeer Mike Atherton Steve Smith Jan Naraine Lewin St Cyr Simon Ward Sharon Lee Andrew Richardson Damon Rostron Robin Smart Alan Smith Joby Williamson Kam Raoofi Rodrigo Canas


George Duck Ian Gabb Maybelle Peters Peter Jones Sid Gavrielides Tim Stroud William Hart Vidar Sigurjonsson Alexandros Stratigopoulos Mary Argyrou and Richard Wentworth Visting tutors Alex da Cunha Anthea Hamilton Andy Holden Benedict Drew Colin Perry David Barrett Ed Fornieles Ellen de Mara Wachter Elodie Seguin Eloise Hawser Helen Frik Jes Fernie Jess Flood Paddock Jonathan Callan Katrina Palmer Laurence Sillars Leah Capaldi Lucy Gunning Marianne Eigenheer Marq Smith Martin Westwood Mary Doyle Nicolas Deshayes Patrizio Di Massimo Paul Pieroni Richard Grayson

Rob Tufnell Sally O’Reilly Sacha Craddock Tom Morton Vincent Honore Design Esterson Associates Photography Philip Sayer Printing Evolution Print Production Julia Curtin, Mark Essen & Alida Sayer Š 2014 Royal College of Art ISBN 978-1-907342-91-2 British Library Cataloguing-inPublication Data: A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior consent of the publishers.

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