11 January 2012: Constable in firstsite's second show
John Constable, R.A. (1776-1837) Rainstorm over the Sea © Royal Academy of Arts, London; Photographer: John Hammond
firstsite’s next exhibitions feature works by John Constable and Carl Andre, alongside new commissions by Steven Claydon
A selection of paintings by the Suffolk-born artist, John Constable (b. 1776, d. 1837) and an iconic sculpture by the American minimalist Carl Andre (b. 1935) will accompany the next exhibition at firstsite: Culpable Earth by Steven Claydon.
In his works, Claydon often displays seemingly disparate objects to make new connections. He has combined sculpture by Andre and paintings by Constable for a parallel exhibition titled after Andre’s infamous series of works Equivalents, all composed of 120 firebricks. A selection of cloud studies painted ‘in the field’ by Constable in the 1820s will sit alongside the Tate collection work Equivalent VIII, invoking Andre’s reference to American Alfred Stieglitz’s photographs of clouds called Equivalents (1925 ¬– 34).
London-based artist Steven Claydon describes his work as being concerned with the ‘passage of materials’; the journey from raw matter to cultural artefact. The Equivalents display is an extension of this idea – clouds are an accumulation of water particles, and the bricks represent this concept writ large.
Assistant Curator Laura Earley said: ‘The Constables we have borrowed are a rare treat, particularly here in the East. We associate his work with iconic, highly finished paintings such as The Hay Wain, but the paintings in this show are smaller scale and more expressive, quite different from more recognisable Constables.’
Director Katherine Wood said: ‘We are delighted to be showing such a significant work by Andre alongside local legend Constable. This juxtaposition also offers a fresh insight into how Steven combines concepts and objects in his new commissions for Culpable Earth. We are grateful to all the lenders for making this show possible.’
The main exhibition, Culpable Earth, comprises entirely new work made by Steven Claydon especially for firstsite. Many of the works are highly crafted sculptures combining historical articles such as portrait busts, vessels and geological samples, contained within bespoke structures that recall museum displays.
Different cultures or periods of history are hybridized. For example, a large ceramic vessel, embellished with the portrait of a nineteenth century evolutionary theorist, combines form and finish respectively from medieval and modern designs. Claydon has worked with a range of materials for the show: aluminium ore (bauxite), beeswax, ceramics and manmade materials including Formica, Thermalite and polyurethane.
A new publication on Steven Claydon’s work, also entitled Culpable Earth, will be launched during the exhibition. This 144-page book, featuring over 300 illustrations and previously unpublished texts, will include an extended interview between the artist and Martin Clark, Artistic Director, Tate St Ives.
Notes to Editors
Press interviews with Steven Claydon are available on Friday 3 February.
Steven Claydon was born in 1969 in London and studied Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art & Design and Central St Martins School of Art & Design, London. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at Salle de Bains, Lyon (2011); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2010) and White Columns, New York (2006). In 2007 he curated Strange Events Permit Themselves the Luxury of Occurring for Camden Arts Centre, London. Other major exhibitions in which his work has been featured include the national touring exhibition British Art Show 7 (2011); Newspeak: British Art Now at the Saatchi Gallery (2010), London; The Dark Monarch, Tate St Ives (2009). He lives and works in London.
This exhibition is additionally supported by Arts Council England and Henry Moore Foundation.
firstsite is grateful to Tate, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and the Royal Academy of Arts for their loan of works to the Equivalents display.