My 3rd review for Crafts magazine: Kate MccGwire at the RWA

Crafts Magazine, September/October 2015International artists Peter Randall-Page and Kate MccGwire have a wonderful joint exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA). I was very pleased to write a review of it for the Craft Council’s ‘Crafts’ magazine, issue September/October 2015.

This is now the third time that I have written about Kate MccGwire’s work (please see my interview with Kate on IdeasTap, and my blog post about writing for the Young Arnolfini zine); it is also my third review for ‘Crafts’ magazine.

My review in Crafts magazine

My review in Crafts magazine

Review of ‘Ahead of the Curve’ exhibition, on contemporary Chinese ceramics

My review of ‘Ahead of the Curve: new china from China’, a touring exhibition on contemporary Chinese ceramics, is published on a four page spread in the latest ‘Craft Arts International’ magazine, issue no. 94. This exhibition started at The Wilson, Cheltenham’s art gallery and museum, in October 2014 and then moved on to Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, before going to The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke on Trent.

Cover page to Crafts Art International, issue no. 95

Cover page to Crafts Art International, issue no. 94

First page of my article in Craft Arts International

First page of my article in Craft Arts International

Crafts Magazine: another review published

I was very pleased when the editor of Crafts Magazine contacted me to commission a review of Ellen Sampson’s current exhibition at Northampton Gallery. Sampson is a shoe designer and and is also over half way through a PhD at the RCA where she is exploring the affective life of shoes.

My review is published in the January – February issue of Crafts Magazine, 2015. My copy of the magazine arrived on New Years eve: 2015 has got off to a good start.









See my earlier blog post about the first writing commission that I received from my favourite crafts magazine, which is attached to Crafts Council.


My review of the ‘Make It Slow’ exhibition in Scarborough is published in Crafts Magazine Jan/Feb 2014

photo copyI was delighted to see my review of the ‘Make It Slow’ exhibition at Woodend Gallery, Scarborough has been published in the Jan/Feb 2014 edition of Crafts Magazine. It has been given a whole page. Crafts is one of my favourite magazines, and one I have read for several years.

The exhibition consisted of a beautifully intricate display of textiles by some of the UK’s top makers. Emphasis was on sustainability of materials and in applying the ‘Slow philosophy’ to craft.

An online copy of the review can be found on the Crafts website, here

Sophie Ryder: Monumental


Remember the huge sculptures of hares that sprang up in Bath a couple of years ago? Well, the artist, Sophie Ryder, is back with even more monumental pieces at Bristol’s RWA.

There is a distinct multiplicity to Sophie Ryder’s work, achieved through the use of different media and techniques to represent repeated forms, most notably hares. By including many mediums, attention is drawn to the processes used to make the work. This gives Ryder’s art a memory – a memory of what it has been and where it has come from. The emphasis on the artistic process is important because it adds to the prominent presence of the artist within the work; Ryder is not only the creator but also the subject matter of many pieces because the sculptures are modelled upon her own body. She is simultaneously inside and outside of the artwork, dualities are constantly at play.

The exhibition is full of ‘internal’ echoes in terms of forms, themes, processes and production. Some pieces are repeated with subtle differences while others experience huge changes in scale. The viewer feels enclosed in a world of repetition. The changes make us see each form in a slightly different way, an effect of defamiliarisation. Ryder plays with our senses, questioning the act of ‘seeing’ and thwarting expectations by constantly showing shapes anew. Indeed, there is always an element of surprise, pushed to the verge of discomfort most pertinently in her installation Temple to the 200 Rabbits.

Ryder’s work specifically asks us to question and think afresh about the form and structure of the female human body. Often, Ryder combines a female body with the head – or mask – of a hare, an uncertain identity that ignites the curiosity of the viewer. The anatomy is slightly distorted, an increased limb length or muscle bulk to convey the athletic power associated with hares. This destabilizes preconceptions about female physicality as weak and delicate. By both evoking and challenging different myths a contradictory sense of being is created, giving these sculptures a sense of fragility and liminality. Their vulnerability is increased because the figures are simultaneously exposed to the viewer’s curiosity and hidden from it by the (literal and metaphorical) masks they wear.

The hares appear introverted; they are either in dialogue with another body (often that of a dog), or concerned with – and enclosed within – their own forms. Many of them are caught in moments of embrace or dance. We see them caught up in their own inner worlds, encourageing the viewer to imagine these worlds and engage with the artwork creatively.
The prominence, and even interrogation, placed upon the body emphasizes the physicality of the Ryder’s work. Though it seems drenched in mythology (such as those surrounding hares, or the female body and fertility), reality and materiality are exposed too. This not only adds to the complexity of the pieces and their meanings, but also emphasizes the tension between being ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, where one is torn between two different states of being. In this way, the hare sculptures hint not only at the multiplicity of character but also to dichotomies of being and becoming, the real and theatrical, and authenticating and performing experience.

Sitting Lady Hare Wall Piece is the only sculpture in the exhibition in a fragmented form – all the other sculptures have rounded, finished appearances regardless of whether they depict a whole figure or just a limb or detail (such as Nell’s Eye orSleeping Feet). Sitting Lady Hare Wall Piece therefore conveys a sense of transience – of simultaneously being present and yet only in part. It looks like it could disintegrate at any moment.

The artworks in Monumental resonate powerfully with one another, constantly unsetting and refocusing the eye. There is much to take in and think about. Many connections are waiting to be made between not only the works themselves, but also between art and life, art and mythology, and the human and non-human (or even non-humane).