Offsite Projects Archive

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  • Keith Farquhar
    'More Nudes in Colour, Southend'
  • 17 January to 2 April 2011
  • Cliff Gardens, Southend-on-Sea

Keith Farquhar
‘More Nudes in Colour, Southend’
17 January to 2 April 2011
Cliff Gardens, Southend-on-Sea

‘More Nudes in Colour, Southend’ is a new series of temporary public sculptures produced by artist Keith Farquhar for Southend-on-Sea’s cliff gardens; the site of the town’s former attraction ‘Never Never Land’. The project develops the artist’s recent photo-sculptural works and presents them for the first time outside of the traditional gallery environment, as classical sculpture dematerialised into two dimensions.

Farquhar makes his work by staging photo-shoots in his studio with female and male models, whose bodies have been applied with paint. The successful images, cropped to emulate figurative sculpture, are sent to a cardboard cut-out manufacturer where they are fabricated life-size into what the artist has termed ‘flat-pack statues’. These are then exhibited on self-assembly plinths made from the same card. From the front, the resulting sculptures have the appearance of being fully realised three-dimensional forms.

However the realism of the images is defied because abstraction is introduced via the blank white surfaces of each work’s reverse side.

For ‘More Nudes in Colour, Southend’, Farquhar has chosen five images to print onto sprayed aluminium. These photographs have been cut to mimic the design of the artist’s previously constructed cardboard cut-outs, and have been installed in the gardens on Southend’s foreshore, which until recently was the site of the local attraction based on writer J M Barrie’s fictional world. This sculpture park or model village fell into disrepair and was removed from the site ten years ago, and so several of Farquhar’s sculptures have been placed on the concrete bases that originally housed Never Never Land’s fibreglass characters and figurines. By situating this work in the gardens, Farquhar’s project serves to reinvigorate a regional location and encourage debate around the imaginative commissioning of public art within local urban-planning along with its regenerative potential.

As a temporary display, ‘More Nudes in Colour,

Southend’ intends to present a form of ‘speeded-up entropy’; subject to an accelerated form of wear and tear, and open to the elements (as well as the spray can) of a seaside town in winter, Farquhar is interested in what might happen to his sculpture outside the context of the gallery and the relative control of the traditional exhibition space. Presented in an unmediated public arena will undoubtedly affect the work’s reception; accessible twenty-four hours a day, it raises a remarkable distinction between the classical nude, the history of this form, and the contemporary appearance given to it by the artist. If the nude is canonised as an acceptable subject within public art, then the nudity in Farquhar’s work becomes vulnerable through the use of photographic realism as opposed to more traditional sculptural mediums such as marble or bronze. His work suggests what it is to make figurative sculpture in the age of digital reproduction.

The launch party for ‘More Nudes in Colour, Southend’ will take place at The Ballroom Suite, First Floor, The Royal Hotel,

1 High St, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS1 1JE between 6.00pm and 12.00am on Saturday 15 January 2011.

LONGMEG will perform live at 8.00pm. The evening will continue with DJ sets by Mark Leckey, Johnny Like, and special guests until 12.00am. This event is free and all are welcome.

‘More Nudes in Colour, Southend’ by Keith Farquhar is the first of Focal Point Gallery’s new programme of offsite projects to take place in and around Southend-on-Sea, and has been conceived in collaboration with Studio Voltaire, London and Tramway, Glasgow. Focal Point Gallery’s new programme of offsite projects is supported by Arts Council England and Southend Borough Council.