How interwoven are our private and public lives?
Sculptor Cathie Pilkington RA explores the relationship between personal collections and public display through an immersive takeover of the historic townhouse’s upstairs rooms.
Suggesting themes of motherhood, privacy, domesticity and the unconscious, this dialogue with the collection and architecture is the gallery’s most ambitious contemporary intervention to date.
The installation is part of RA250, a nationwide programme celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts.
As an artist with a huge interest in mid-century British art and surrealism, Pallant House Gallery’s collection is a real treat for me.
In four of the domestic rooms in the 18th century townhouse, Pilkington co-opts works from the gallery’s collection to sit alongside more than 30 of her own figurative constructions. Selected works include Eileen Agar, Henry Moore, Paula Rego, Victor Willing, and a series of Lord Snowdon’s arresting portraits of women artists that form an anchor in the curation of each room.
New sculptural works created especially for the show include a series of ‘Pietas’ which both engage and subvert the traditional artistic treatment of fundamental human themes. By combining the languages of toys and comics with classical sculpture and surrealism, Pilkington’s re-imagined versions of the religious scene disrupt the viewer’s contemplation of the sculptural object with jarring details. Good-Bed-Bad-Bed is a sculptural occupation of the gallery’s Hepplewhite four poster bed, featuring new quilted and painted covers, drapes and valances that create an engaging site for a formal and metaphysical scene.
Working from Home is the latest situated project by the artist that follows on from her recent residency at Dorich House, The Life Rooms at Brighton Festival 2017 and the Royal Academy Schools’ Life Rooms 2017.
I am convinced that work made on an intimate scale, involving the viewer in close proximity has as much power to deal with the big subjects as any macho museum scale art.