Lauren Gault

Sweet ensilage
Image – ‘Sweet ensilage’, (detail courtesy of Therafin) Lauren Gault, 2012

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The pieces all gel together to form a strong show that really holds its own, making a solid visual statement while allowing the viewer the opportunity to explore for themselves the more intricate details beneath.

The Skinny - 4 star review


Sweet ensilage

Lauren Gault (born 1986, Belfast) is a visual artist based in Glasgow. For her first exhibition in a public institution, Gault presents ‘agriculture as culture’ in the form of four ensilage bales (fermenting grass used as cattle fodder) staggered throughout the gallery. The bales which have been loaned from a farm outside of Glasgow will be temporarily displayed in the gallery before being returned to their agricultural context.

In these and other works, Gault draws heavily on the seminal research of Temple Grandin in the treatment of autism and livestock management. Grandin invented “The squeeze machine” and advocated swaddling patients or the application of extreme pressure as a proven method of relaxation and release. Gault creates associations between the practices of Grandin and other seemingly disparate but connected phenomena which incorporate motifs of binding, containment, pressure and clarification.

The artist uses both found and constructed examples of these actions and processes in order to explore notions of containment, evacuation, release, and transformation occurring between the structure of an object and it’s membrane or surface. The use of silage bales for example relates to Gault’s interest in how these actions can transform an objects structure or turn it into something with a completely different function or value. In this case the sweet smelling fermenting grass contained within the layers of polythene; the grass within slowly transforming throughout the exhibition into valuable fodder. In the past Gault has referenced naturally occurring examples of this phenomenon such as the creation of gem stones through the pressure applied to carbon over time.

Around and on the silage bales in the exhibition are a number of large ceramic plaits glazed with a similar blue green hue to the large forms which they appear to adorn. In the creation of these forms, the artist was inspired by Victorian ‘mourning’ jewelry in which the hair of the deceased was braided and weaved into tight, decorative formations so that the wearer would have something of them. The development of plaits was believed to be the external formation or representation of an internal illness - a way of 'seeing' into that person, the form being some sort of evacuation or movement from state to substance. The artist was also interested in the fact that clay as a material has what is described as a 'memory', and needs to be handled in a particular way during the process or it will curl and be unruly in a similar fashion to hair.

The large swathes of fabric attached to armatures on the columns are printed with an abstracted photographic print of St Teresa, a prominent saint and Carmelite nun. Gault has printed the fabric to resemble a shroud used to bind a body for burial, on which an image of the figure of St Teresa appears as though a residual presence. To shroud also denotes to conceal, protect, screen or shut off from sight, ideas which resonate heavily with the references to sight and seeing in Gault’s work. The eye or Iris are motifs which have appeared in previous work by the artist and in this exhibition she has severed the printed fabric sails with two large holes which seem to denote large, ghostly eyes.
The artist also explores notions of sight and seeing in her explorations into ‘structural colour’ - colours caused by interference effects rather than by pigments. Such effects are produced when a material is for example formed of one or more parallel thin layers (such as the greenish hue of the many clear polythene layers covering the bales), or otherwise composed; the colour of human irises, the blue of the sky and the luster of opals are further examples of structural colour.
These themes are reflected in the artists experiments with surface treatments applied to sculptures. Objects are coated in an opalescent finish so that their status, colour and form constantly shifts depending on the viewer’s position. Other sculptures are highly polished, an effect which seals the surface of an object whilst simultaneously revealing its intrinsic archeology and structure.

A common theme in all these investigations is the way in which Gault explores how meaning proliferates or depletes through the transformation of made and found objects. Using the simple idea of sculpture as an ‘evacuation’ or transformation of meaning from one form to another, Gault examines core concerns surrounding desire and meaning.













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