with ann carrington
In The Netherlands in the 17th Century, a Golden Age was in full swing. The economy of the Dutch Republic, as it was then known, was flourishing as Antwerp and other ports became important hubs for the commercial shipping trade, importing and exporting textiles, spices, and metals, and the cities’ populations swelled. Elaborately detailed oil paintings depicting food on the table or incredible flower arrangements were popular additions to wealthy merchants’ homes, yet a more ominous genre of still-life painting also emerged amid this period of immense growth.
Known as Vanitas, the paintings brim with symbolism intended to emphasize the futility of earthly pleasures and the pointlessness of seeking wealth, power, and glory. When British artist Ann Carrington visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, she described in Architectural Digest that “looking at those pictures of half-consumed food and fading flowers, I realized that one of the only things that could have survived to today was the silverware, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to try to make something out of that?’” The works in her Bouquets series (previously) combine hundreds of kitchen utensils into extravagant floral sculptures.
The use of discarded and found objects is central to Carrington’s practice, especially when they can be layered and draped in multiples. Strands of pearls and ornate brooches adorn the form of a ship, which is weighed down by its cargo as much as it embodies it, and a pair of caribou antlers are fashioned from forks with handles made from dozens of antlers. “Mundane objects such as knives and forks, barbed wire, pins, and paintbrushes come with their own readymade histories and associations which can be unravelled and analysed if rearranged, distorted or realigned to give them new meaning as sculpture,” she says in a statement. Similar to the way Vanitas painting reminded viewers of the less romantic side of burgeoning wealth and expanding empires, Carrington’s material choices serve as a reminder that beneath the gleaming surface there is often a dark side.
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Ann Carrington produces sculpture that elevate objects used in the everyday, recontextualizing items as common as the household utensil. In her series Bouquets and Butterflies, Carrington gathers hundreds of spoons, knives, and forks both shiny and tarnished to create elegant bouquets. Clumping spoons together she is able to recreate the shapes of roses and tulips, some appearing so realistic you wonder if they are organic flowers dipped in a layer of silver.
The sculptures were included in Carrington’s solo exhibition Pop goes the Weasel! last summer at the Royal College of Art in London in addition to her ships formed from strings of pearls. You can see more of Carrington’s work on her Facebook and Instagram.
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Ann Carrington‘s piece “Galleons and Feathers” is inspired by Wing Wo Wave City, an industrial estate in Zhuijang Province, China which manufactures a massive amount of pearl adornment. The piece is formed in the shape of a 3-mast shop, floating over an opulent sea of brooches, earrings, necklaces and tiaras. The work both contains, and is inspired by, these glistening round objects, and Carrington explains on her website that they highlight “the discrepancy between their perceived status of being timeless status symbols of refined taste and wealth (with exotic overtones) and the often very unromantic reality.”
Carrington studied at Bournville College of Art, Birmingham and The Royal College of Art where she graduated in 1987. Carrington was invited by the United Nations in 2010 to produce artwork that raised awareness of current issues, her first work for them presented at the UN Human Trafficking conference in December 2010. She will have a solo show at The Royal College of Art in October 2016. (via Supersonic and Lustik)
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Editor's Picks: Design
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.