Shelagh Wakely – Going Beyond

6th – 23rd October 2015

‘Until you have found the edge there is no possibility of going beyond.’ – Shelagh Wakely

Shapero Modern is delighted to present Going Beyond, an exhibition of print works by the late Shelagh Wakely. Covering the years 1972 to 2009, it is the most comprehensive survey of this area of her practice ever staged, and offers a rare opportunity to view works from her estate that have never been shown in public before.

While celebrated for her public sculptures, such as the mosaic on the exterior of The Royal Albert Hall, Wakely worked in many mediums. A pioneer in installation art, her practice also encompassed sculpture, ceramics, painting, print, collage, photography, drawing and video, all of which were acknowledged in a major exhibition at Camden Arts Centre in 2014.

Going Beyond reveals a range of printing techniques, including silkscreen, photo etching with drawing and etching in bronze and silver, and embraces many of the artist’s key themes, which the critic Sarah Kent saw, in part, as ‘the notions of boundaries, edges and divisions – the interface between this and that, inner and outer, the self and the other.’* This is evident in A memory exercised. Collection as yet unnamed: Recorded hence forgotten, 1979. Featuring a line of mementoes – handwritten notes by an empty glass, nail scissors and a milk jug – it seems to record an event long passed; a significant moment dissolved in time.

A series of etchings and charcoal works from 1979 and 1980, variously titled, show a vase patterned with overlapping flowers; the overlaid and muddied colours having the effect of palimpsest. Other works convey the fragile continuity of nature. The etched copper work, cloud forest leaf, 2005, features a leaf revealing its veins as it gradually disintegrates, while as light as a feather, 2006, captures the flailing barbs of a single feather.

These exquisite renderings of the natural world stand alongside works with an urban theme, such as the trio of 1980’s works, During an interval, featuring Waterloo Bridge. Another, Letter Bomb, 1973, is a screen print of a ripped\out newspaper story, a reminder of when the city lived in terror of the IRA.
Tabitha Philpott\Kent, Shapero Modern’s Gallery Director, says: ‘Though best known for her large scale installations and public works, print9making was integral to Wakely’s practice. These smaller scale works offer a unique insight into her private world.’
Shapero Modern would like to thank the Shelagh Wakely Estate and Richard Saltoun Gallery for their cooperation in helping stage this exhibition.

*Eros in a Glass, the Poetry of Mundane Encounters, an essay published to accompany the exhibition Shelagh Wakely: A View from a Window at Camden Arts Centre, 13 July–28 September 2014.


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