Vestige brings together artworks that subtly or overtly reference historical imagery and objects, incorporating the traces that histories leave behind in unique ways. The exhibition includes arresting new works by artists Lisa Wright, Emma Vidal, Penny Byrne, Aaron Smith and Henry Hussey.
Lisa Wright’s paintings and drawings are simultaneously rooted in the past and the present, intimately and emotionally entwined with historical portrait painting. Fragments of history – ribbons, ruffs, wigs and petticoats – are pieced together with a contemporary sensibility. The resulting figures hover between time periods. They also hover on the brink of adulthood: childish faces with rosy cheeks and rounded bellies at odds with their formal clothing and decorative adornments.
The sensual and striking subjects of Wright’s works are underpinned by her remarkable skills in drawing and deft handling of paint. The works are uniquely unsettling and compelling.
Wright studied painting at the Royal Academy, London, 1990-1993, after which she moved to Cornwall, where she now lives and works. In addition to many well-received solo exhibitions, Wright’s work has been acquired by numerous corporate and private collections and was shown at Tate St Ives in the notable Art Now Cornwall exhibition. She was Artist in Residence with the Royal Shakespeare Company throughout the two year period of the ‘Histories’ cycle, which culminated in exhibitions at the Roundhouse, London and at the Royal Academy.
Notable awards include the National Open Art Prize, the Hunting Art Prize, and, most recently, the Threadneedle Prize, 2013.
The work of Emma Vidal explores a post-apocalyptic world in ruin. Her practice, taking the form of charcoal drawings, sculpture and moving image, balances both the will to survive in such circumstances and the vulnerability of the human body. Vidal re-imagines a future world as a place whose inhabitants consist only of wild children and where Mother Nature is claiming back her own territory. Vidal is influenced by spiritual experiences from her Catholic upbringing and her travels, and is particularly concerned with ideas of religious symbolism, ritual and cult.
The artist’s use of charcoal utilises the material’s unique abilities to capture expression with a fragile and quivering stroke of her hand. The totemic three-dimensional works Vidal creates reference a range of historical, cultural and visual objects from around the world, mixing styles from disparate places and periods.
Vidal studied Fine Art at Central St Martins College of Art and Design, London, where she lives and works currently. Her work has featured in the Jerwood Drawing Prize exhibition, touring nationally in 2013 and in the ING Discerning Eye selection in London at The Mall Galleries in 2014. Her solo exhibition Gold String was presented at Museum Blue, St Louis, USA in 2014.
Henry Hussey’s works bring together vintage, hand-dyed and printed fabrics, embroidery and bead-work in the production of rich and emotive textile pieces. Drawing upon personal experiences of specific events and the emotional responses that have informed his life, Hussey skilfully layers and interweaves text, imagery and material to create exquisitely detailed works with a powerful resonance. The imagery used derives from the artist’s own library of sketches of objects from museum collections, as well as photographs that depict emotional expression. Such photographs are an integral part of Hussey’s working process, as is his work performing with actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company which he uses to research and explore the ways that emotions are expressed through the face and the body. The result is a highly complex and colourful body of work.
Hussey graduated from Chelsea College of Art with a BA (Hons) in 2011 and completed his MA in Textiles at the Royal College of Art in 2013. He has recently been selected by Cat Street Gallery in Hong Kong for their exhibition Young Blood. Significantly, Hussey’s work was also selected for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition touring nationally and the Royal Academy Summer exhibition in 2014.