Cathie Pilkington: Working from Home
[ Exhibition )
How interwoven are our private and public lives?
Sculptor Cathie Pilkington RA explored the relationship between personal collections and public display through an immersive takeover of the historic townhouse’s upstairs rooms in 2019.
Suggesting themes of motherhood, privacy, domesticity and the unconscious, this dialogue with the collection and architecture was the gallery’s most ambitious contemporary intervention to date.
The installation was 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-opted works from the gallery’s collection to sit alongside more than 30 of her own figurative constructions. Selected works included 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 included 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 disrupted 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 was 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.
Discover the work of Cathie Pilkington
Installation view of Pietà 1: Playing Dead (2018)
Flanked by Cathie Pilkington, Surrogate, 2007 to the left and Henry Moore, Suckling Child, 1930 (reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation) to the right. Photo: Mr. Perou © The Artist