Ikon presented the first major museum exhibition by British artist Ruth Claxton. Based in Birmingham, Claxton has become widely known for her constructed installations, populated with porcelain figurines, collected from car-boot sales, junk shops and internet auction sites. Claxton ‘blinds’ these figures through sculptural intervention so that their vision is obscured, paradoxically, by what it is they would otherwise see.
The entire second floor of Ikon was transformed by Claxton into a new topography of countless painted steel circles, suspended in a mass of metalwork. In Claxton’s work, the sightless figurines stand adrift in a world in flux. Many of the circles are open hoops; others contain coloured and mirrored glass discs, precariously balanced, creating visual complexity as their reflected imagery merges with our real space. They also act to implicate viewers through reflections, immersing and enveloping them in this disorientating environment.
Through its allusion to our increasing engagement with information technology, Claxton’s works encourage our consideration of a societal shift towards an atomised, dislocated future. It exemplifies the artist’s concern with the impact of passive consumption, and how a new kind of insulation from reality might effect the way we apprehend and interpret the world we live in.
To coincide with her exhibition at Ikon, Ruth Claxton will also showed a series of new postcard pieces at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham (Print Room 1, 2 April – 6 July). Visit www.barber.org.uk for more information.
Following Ikon, the exhibition toured throughout 2008–9 to Oriel Davies, Newtown, Powys (October – November 2008); Spike Island, Bristol (January – February 2009) and The Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool (March – April 2009).
A fully illustrated catalogue, including installation photographs is available.
Ruth Claxton’s exhibition was kindly supported by the Arts Council England National Touring Programme, The Henry Moore Foundation and the Owen Family Trust.
The Spike Island Arts Council South West Residency 2007 awarded to Claxton, formed part of the research phase toward the development of new work for the exhibition.