The Trials and Tribulations of Wet Horse Hair

Dawn Mellor

This special presentation encompasses a new body of paintings by Dawn Mellor. 

Mellor has been making images of public figures for over twenty years, often exploring ideas of identity, fan culture and status. For this new series, the artist has drawn primarily from British television legal dramas, in which Mellor’s recognizable protagonists – Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Daniela Nardini, Julie Walters – have been cast as members of an imaginary judicial system.

Scaled slightly larger than life, Mellor’s subjects are formally dressed in court attire, but have been superimposed with barnacles, jellyfish and other invented sea creatures. At times, these translucent cowls appear delicately decorative, almost ceremonial; at others, they bind torsos and obscure the actor’s face. 

The underwater courtroom might suggest collusion in a rotten, corroded performance of the law. However if Mellor’s sunken QCs are not idealised, they also are not obviously castigated. Instead, the artist’s surreal portraits are ambivalent representations of justice, morality and class. 

These works continue a long–term project focusing on creating paintings of multiple gangs of recontextualised TV and film actors playing characters dressed in work uniforms. The project began in 2013 with fictional art collective ‘The Austerians’ and more recently ‘Sirens’, from which works were acquired by Tate Britain and included in the current  display ’60 Years’. The Trials and Tribulations of Wet Horse Hair forms part of a larger body of ongoing work. The full presentation will be exhibited at Glasgow International, which is now postponed to 2021. 

Concurrently, Mellor’s first permanent public artwork George Michael TV Outside, a large–scale mural exploring the life of singer, songwriter and LGBTQ+ icon George Michael, is being presented on Kingsbury Road as part of the Brent Biennial. George Michael TV Outside is part of Studio Voltaire elsewhere, a series of ambitious offsite commissions taking place throughout London.

Visitor Information

To book your visit, click here.

5–10 October 2020
Monday–Saturday, 11am–5pm

Maximum capacity: Four visitors
Face covering is essential
Please maintain a safe distance

About Dawn Mellor

Dawn Mellor (b. 1970, Manchester) has had numerous solo exhibitions in London, New York, Venice, and Brussels. Recent publications include Sirens by Dawn Mellor (Montez Press, 2019) and recent solo exhibitions include Sirens, Team Gallery, New York, (2017), What Happened to Helen?, Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea, (2013), An Ecstasy of Purpose, Studio Voltaire, London (2010) and at The Migros Museum fur Gegenwartskunst, Zurich (2008). Their work has been shown at the Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany; The Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius, Vilnius, Lithuania; Limerick City Art Gallery, Limerick, Ireland; Museum Arnhem, Arnhem, Netherlands; MoMA P.S.1, Long Island City, New York; and Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom.

 

  • Image Credits

    Installation views

    Dawn Mellor, The Trials and Tribulations of Wet Horse Hair, 2020 (installation view), courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire. Photo: Tom Carter

    Individual works

    Dawn Mellor, Jocelyn Knight QC (Charlotte Rampling), 2020. Oil on canvas, 152.4 x 101.6 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire. Photo: Tom Carter

    Dawn Mellor, Junior Crown Prosecutor Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman), 2020  Oil on canvas 60 x 40 in, 152,4 x 101,6 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire Credit Tom Carter

    Dawn Mellor, Ruth Quirke (Sarah Lancashire), 2020  Oil on canvas 60 x 40 in, 152,4 x 101,6 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire Credit Tom Carter

    Dawn Mellor, Sharon Bishop QC (Marianne Jean–Baptiste), 2020 Oil on canvas 60 x 40 in, 152,4 x 101,6 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire Credit Tom Carter

    Dawn Mellor, The Honourable Mrs Justice (Sonia) Sharma (Meera Syal), 2020 Oil on canvas 60 x 40 in, 152,4 x 101,6 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire Credit Tom Carter 

    Dawn Mellor, Maggie Gardner (Sophie Okonedo), 2020 Oil on canvas 60 x 40 in, 152,4 x 101,6 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire Credit Tom Carter

    Dawn Mellor, Martha Costello QC (Maxine Peake), 2020 Oil on canvas 60 x 40 in, 152,4 x 101,6 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire Credit Tom Carter

    Dawn Mellor, Anna Forbes (Daniela Nardini), 2020 Oil on canvas 60 x 40 in, 152,4 x 101,6 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire Credit Tom Carter

    Dawn Mellor, Emma Watts QC (Julie Walters), 2020 Oil on canvas 60 x 40 in, 152,4 x 101,6 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire Credit Tom Carter

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