KENT, UK.-This autumn Turner Contemporary presents an exhibition of new work by acclaimed artist Laura Ford. In Rag and Bone, Fords first exhibition in Kent, she has created a group of sculptures and drawings based on characters from the Tales of Beatrix Potter for the interior and exterior of Droit House on Margates stone pier.
Ford works with a variety of materials, sometimes using what is to hand, from fabric and other found objects to more traditional material such as bronze and plaster. Children or animals are often the protagonists and her distinctive figures emit an embarrassment or self-consciousness at being looked at, combining playfulness and humour with a sense of fear or awkwardness.
Beatrix Potters tales were accompanied by her own anthropomorphic watercolour illustrations. For this exhibition, some of Potters best-known characters have become urban: Mr Brock the Badger and Mr Tod the Fox, both cast in bronze, appear as homeless figures, while a group of Flopsy Bunnies, in painted jesmonite, pass out on the floor of Droit House.
This socially and politically charged group of sculptures came out of Fords recent experience of making art in the public realm. Commenting on the parallel worlds that exist in our towns and cities between the sanitised spaces of consumerism and the homeless and disenfranchised who often exist on their margins, Ford has said: This led me to think about the animals that come into the city after dark and our attitude to them as sometimes cute and sentimental and sometimes as vermin.
The rag and bone men referenced in the exhibition title were the original recyclers, now a dying breed. By casting these characters from Edwardian childrens tales in distinctly contemporary, urban situations, Ford raises questions about our increasingly throwaway culture while the sentimentality of Potters original stories is overshadowed by a far darker undercurrent.
Presented in collaboration with Houldsworth Gallery, the Contemporary Art Society and The Economist Group.