“The Cat’s Whiskers” consists by a gaggle of 4 hand blown glass sculptures, proven alongside a sequence of latest watercolours, on the Bury Road gallery in St James’s. The results of an formidable venture, the sculptures have been made in collaboration with extremely expert makers on the Nationwide Glass Centre in Sunderland, in response to a fee by Glass Alternate and unveiled earlier this yr at Durham Cathedral’s Galilee Chapel.
Made in 2022, every of the 4 glass dioramas draw inspiration from the native historical past and setting of Durham Cathedral, reimagining episodes from the lives of two legendary Northumbrian saints whose tombs are positioned on the Galilee Chapel. The works depict tales from the lifetime of Venerable Bede and St. Cuthbert, as described in Bede’s writings. Composed in luminous, brightly colored glasses, the works dramatically reenvisage the miraculous episodes via a sequence of dreamlike and near-psychedelic vignettes.
All through these reimagined scenes Chetwynd playfully adapts and exaggerates scale, color and gesture to dramatic impact, transposing the sudden surreality and zest of her performative environments as microcosmic dioramas. Every variously teems with fantastical parts. In a scene from the lifetime of St. Cuthbert, the exorcism of a feminine-presenting determine depicts a translucent speech bubble that springs from their lips to disclose a scarlet winged satanic determine who performs an impish dance. In St. Cuthbert and the Sea Otters—that describes the story of Cuthbert rising from aquatic prayer to be dried by the breath and fur of otters—tiny figures are engulfed in a stunning array of big squid, eels and sea urchins; concurrently conjuring a way of joyful absurdity and wonderment for the pure world.
Set compared to Chetwynd’s broader observe—which she describes as ‘impatiently made’—and exuberant, spontaneously evolving performances, realising the fee concerned working intently with expert makers over a interval of many months to supply the 4 intricate sculptures. The method conversely culminates with the glass taking kind via fast actions made earlier than it cools. On this sense, the works self-reflexively embody a contained expression of collaboration and immediacy, in addition to the multifarious method to story-telling on the core of Chetwynd’s work.
For this exhibition, Chetwynd has chosen to put in the sculptures on home furnishings, as a method of recontextualising and familiarising the formal viewing assemble of a gallery setting. Using repurposed furnishings additionally extends the artist’s pursuit of working with recycled and sustainable supplies.
Proven in dialogue with the sculptures are two teams of watercolours that characterize a just lately initiated and ongoing experimentation into the connection between efficiency and portray. Energetically made, the works act as each documentation and as a hard and fast web site of performative motion and its liminal gestures. With characters drawn straight from previous performances or from creativeness, their fluid, spontaneous and gestural scenographies convey the disruptive ambiance of elation and mayhem discovered within the artist’s performative observe.
at Sadie Coles HQ, London
till January 12, 2023