Richard Slee: Camp Futility
Studio Voltaire presented a new commission by Richard Slee, comprising a series of objects and installations made specifically for the exhibition. Slee is an important figure within contemporary ceramics and the exhibition was his first presentation in a public gallery since From Utility to Futility, a solo exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2010.
Central to Slee’s exhibition at Studio Voltaire were a number of works based on vernacular objects such as: wood saws, hammers, pick axes and camping equipment. Inspired by a residency at Alfred University, upstate New York, the works investigated particular myths surrounding the symbolism of America as a land of the great outdoors and pioneer spirit. Lashed together workbenches, scattered tools and an abandoned camp-fire transform into an allegory of abandoned industry.
Ideas challenging the economy of productive labour are implicit in Slee’s combination of the hand-made and the found object. The uncanny hybrid of the deskilled ready-made and the crafted object convey a subversive humour that playfully investigates the limits of the ceramic tradition. Mass produced, everyday objects are meticulously realized with highly glazed, bright colours. These seductive surfaces recall a Pop or postmodern aesthetic that belies the psychological and cultural references within the object.
Supported by SIMONE and The Henry Moore Foundation.
- About the artist
Richard Slee (b. 1946, Carlisle) works and lives in London. He studied Ceramics at Central School of Art & Design and the Royal College of Art. Until last year, he was a senior Professor at the University of the Arts in London. His work has been shown in London and internationally since the late 1970s and recent exhibitions include Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990, V&A Museum, London (2011-12), The Pier Arts Centre, Stromness (2004) and Tate St Ives (2003). Slee is represented by Hales Gallery, London.
- Image credit
Richard Slee, Camp Futility, 2012. Installation View, Studio Voltaire, London. Courtesy of the artist and Hales Gallery, London. Credit Andy Keate.