A new exhibition of work by West Dean College Artist-in-Residence, Renee So, is now open at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-sea.
The exhibition, Ancient & Modern, includes hand-woven textiles, furniture, and ceramic works that refer to representations of the female figure in prehistoric cultures. A tiled mural is based on the Egyptian goddess of the night, Nut, her body bent in a yoga-like pose in order to provide shelter to the earth; other ceramic sculptures are reminiscent of pre-Columbian figurines of Venus. These continue So's on-going investigation into ceramic vessels that people across the world have made to drink and eat out of for thousands of years.
Pottery and textiles represent some of the earliest forms of material culture. So uses imagery found within these histories to make gently satirical commentary on contemporary social codes and power structures. By using traditional craft techniques such as weaving, knitting and pottery, Renee So addresses the hierarchy between craft and art; the former is traditionally seen as women's work - less serious, domestic, invisible and un-authored - while the latter is still often associated with the idea of the (historically white and male) lone genius.
This exhibition emerges from a residency initiated by the De La Warr Pavilion and West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. Renee So was selected from an international open call that offered an artist time, space and facilities for making new work, as well as access to a variety of resources and facilities, including the historic West Dean House and the College's collections and archives.
Saturday 28 September - Sunday 12 January
Kindly supported by The Elephant Trust and The Golsoncott Foundation.
So's exhibition is held to mark the centenary of the Bauhaus and is especially interested in the legacy of female makers who were often pushed towards craft practices within the school. The exhibited works refer to Anni and Josef Albers' collection of pre-Columbian figurines and textiles, a collection that reveals the influence of non-Western culture on the modernist movement.
A symposium organised to coincide with Renee So's exhibition was held at West Dean on Friday 18th October 2019.
The West Dean College of Arts and Conservation residency programme provides professional artists, writers, and makers the opportunity to work on-site for a period of one to three weeks.
Co-ordinated alongside the School of Arts, the residencies are designed to support contemporary practitioners to develop their work, experiment with new materials, and access expert advice. The residencies continue the legacy of Edward James by supporting early-mid career artists, encouraing making and sharing knowledge. All resident artists engage with the students by providing tutorial support, leading workshops, and giving presentations on their practice.