Laura Ford: Seen and Unseen
Laura Ford is one of Britain’s most original sculptors and is well-known for her portrayals of animals through which she explores aspects of the human condition – although Ford describes her own work as sculptures dressed as people who are dressed as animals. Deploying a nightmarish imagination she uses humour and acute observation to engage with social and political issues. Her works are personal and particular but also draw inspiration from popular culture as well as painting and sculpture from throughout the history of art.
This ambitious show, spread across Lakeland Arts’ venues, expands on its previous incarnation in Horace Walpole’s fabulously gloomy gothic interiors at Strawberry Hill. Occupying the period spaces inside at Abbot Hall and Blackwell are key works from all periods of Ford’s career, while outside at Blackwell some very tall cats pace anxiously on the lower lawn, the down-and-out urban cousins of some of Beatrix Potter’s best-loved characters have taken up residence in the courtyard, and two girls are frozen in the moment of their silent sorrows on the south lawn.
The exhibition also presents a number of new sculptures, ceramics and works on paper never seen before. These include a series of sculptures at Abbot Hall that explore the dynamics of couples - their strengths, their weaknesses, their glory and their madness - and at Blackwell ceramics partly inspired by its Arts & Crafts interiors and the lustrous glazes of master ceramicist William De Morgan. This show also offers a rare opportunity to see an extensive selection of Ford’s graphic works, in which she not only explores ideas and variations relating to her sculpture but also allows her imagination to run free, creating delicate line drawings and vivid watercolours that exist as finished artworks in their own right.
This exhibition was originally conceived by Stephen Feeke, Director of the New Art Centre, Roche Court, for Strawberry Hill House, and has been reconfigured with additional content selected by Lakeland Arts in close collaboration with the artist. We are extremely grateful to Stephen Feeke, and all the staff at the New Art Centre, for their invaluable assistance with this show. Our deepest gratitude, too, to Laura Ford for her generosity and support and without whom this exhibition would not have been possible.
Collect your discount voucher from either Blackwell or Abbot Hall for £2 off your admission to the other venue - you really need to see both aspects of the exhibition!