PRESS & WRITINGS

Article written by Fiona Robinson, current President of the Royal Academy of the Arts West of England, Bristol, UK

First published in Evolver, May/June 2013

Polystyrene balls and shredded corrugated cardboard might seem an unpromising starting point from which to make sculpture but they are the raw materials of Aisling Hedgecock’s unnamable, language- defying work. From these waste products emerge organic, amorphous forms, which suggest mutations, bio geological growth, coral, or cell structure, stalactites and stalagmites. A garden of earthly delights of proliferating cells out of control, except that the whole structureless structure is exceptionally carefully controlled, from the selective coding in “colour waves” of the individual parts, to the sizes of the chunks of glued balls of polystyrene which are also graded in size, to the painted steel structures in which they are housed.

Post Royal College of Art, Aisling spent two years at the British School in Rome, as a Sainsbury Scholar followed by a stint in the hills of Andalucia where the simplicity of Moorish architecture was a significant relief from Roman Baroque churches and the Spanish landscape, a welcome change after the noise and excitement of Italy’s capital. She read Lorca’s essay on the Duende and the spirit of evocation and gradually the experiences of the southern Baroque settled into layers just below the surface of her conscious thought, digested and ordered, freeing her to explore both in her most recent work.

Recycling of materials is part of Hedgecock’s practice. The Third Stellation 2010/11, below, was constructed from ten years-worth of large monochrome drawings, cut, reshaped and remade into a spreading spiky form which crept across the surface of the floor of the Galerie Gabriel Rolt in The Netherlands in 2011.

She has used polystyrene since 2005 but the corrugated card is new as are the fabricated steel structures which she is using to contain her unruly forms. They still grow and appear to have a life of their own, escaping the bounds of their geometric constraints. Occasionally a skeletal hand-claw will attempt to clasp the bubbling teaming mass but it escapes between the stick-like fingers. Elsewhere dripping shards plunge into the forms or emerge from them hanging downwards like stabs of frozen water.

Inextricably linked to the sculptures are drawings of fluid dynamics, dendrology and Rorschachian blots which she develops using her signature language of comets, drips, dots and tails. They explore the concept of memories carried in physical world. In her studio, a huge monochrome drawing fills a complete wall and has been growing in tandem with the new sculpture for months. Starting appropriately with the skeleton of a beaver, itself a creature totally at home in the water, she has been gradually building up the surface with marks and circles. The embryonic form is not quite contained within a grid, just as the sculptures are moving beyond the steel bounds, which are not really attempting to contain them. Drawing and sculpture seem to be having a conversation about balancing form and formlessness, accepting that neither achieves supremacy. The structures are open allowing the amorphous forms the flexibility to flow and develop, fall apart, disintegrate and respond to circumstance, just as water reacts to changes in atmosphere, weather conditions and erosion.

In her work Hedgecock explores formlessness and fluidity and things that are impossible to pin down, She plays with her audience and their expectations, offering a structure but deliberately allowing the coloured mass to escape, not even really letting the geometric cage of steel to challenge the thing growing inside it. She goes further, leaving gaps in the bars and distorting the rigid rules of geometry. There is something essentially anarchic about this work in its concept, in the way it is constructed and in the artist’s choice of and use of materials.

Aisling Hedgecock is a selector and invited artist for the 161st Royal West of England Academy Autumn Exhibition. Sculpture and and a large drawing will be on show at the RWA in Bristol from 24th November until 26th January 2014.

PRESS RELEASE, AKERSHUS KUNSTSENTER, NORWAY, 2013

 

Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth.

– Benoit Mandelbrot

Akershus Kunstsenter is delighted to present new works by British artist Aisling Hedgecock. In this, her first exhibition in Norway, Hedgecock presents a series of sculptures and a major drawing, alongside other work on paper. All works have been created especially for this exhibition and reflect time examining the interstice between Euclidian geometry and formlessness.

Marking a new direction in her work Hedgecock presents a series of bright, chromatic metal frameworks, housed within these open geometric structures are clouds of her signature coloured polystyrene granules. Francis Bacon’s Head V1, 1949, a reworking of Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1650, displays his characteristic use of a framework around the physical body heightening the sense of entrapment. In a similar register, the introduction of sharp linear projections provides space for the formless bio-geological growths to exist. Each exoskeleton varies in cultural reference; from Plato’s abstract building blocks of life, the cube and tetrahedron, to shapes that nod towards plinth, vitrine, and the recognisable contents of art gallery or museum. Hedgecock plays with the tensions brought together in these collisions, ordering colour and material to evoke relationships that range from the insidious and parasitical to the harmonious and universal.

The large-scale pencil drawing We Are Stardust takes its title from the chorus of Woodstock, the renowned Joni Mitchell song featured on the album Ladies of the Canyon (1970). The drawing is constructed from thousands of minuscule graphite circles revealing the skeletal structure of a large mammal. The result is an entropic and embryonic image momentarily fossilized on the surface of the paper before it disappears from sight, back to the stuff of stardust. Essentially a protest song, the Woodstock lyrics bring to mind a journey that traverses both galactic nebulae and an earthly Arcadia set against the psychedelic blaze of 1960’s American radical idealism. Hedgecock’s artwork takes its colour scheme from this epoch. Pastel and neon, luminous and Baroque, optimistic and transcendental, it comes from a place where wilderness still exists.

Born in Donegal, Republic of Ireland, 1979. Hedgecock studied Fine Art, Sculpture at Wimbledon School of Art, London in 2001, and gained a place at the Royal College of Art, London in 2004. After the post-graduate degree Hedgecock was awarded the Sainsbury Scholarship in Drawing and Sculpture at The British School at Rome, living and working in Italy until 2008. She exhibits in the UK and across Europe regularly. Most recent exhibitions include The Third Stellation, her first solo presentation at Galerie Gabriel Rolt, and group shows at Angus-Hughes, Cell and The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and Galerie Schuster, Berlin. Her work is held in major collections in Europe.

The artist wishes to thank Des Alner and Julie Turner at Higher Green Farm Arts for their generous support in the making of this Exhibition.

"IRISH ART AND STARDUST" BY ØYVIND MO LARSEN, PUBLISHED IN ROMERIKES BLAD, 2013

Øyvind Mo Larsen, “Irish art and stardust”

Debuting in Norway: Irish artist Aisling Hedgecock is exhibiting in Norway for the first time. Her exhibition hangs in Akershus Art Center until 9 June.

 

Akershus Art Center opened the exhibition "We are Stardust" by British Aisling Hedgecock on Saturday.

Lillestrøm

British artist Aisling Hedgecock is exhibiting in Norway for the first time, and she is doing so in Lillestrøm after Rikke Komissar [Director of Akershus Art Centre] saw Hedgecock’s works exhibited in Amsterdam.

“I was then and there quite clear that I had to bring this artist to Norway so that her works can be experienced here”, says Komissar.

 

Polystyrene and pencil

The artist shows a series of sculptures and a huge drawing, as well as other works on paper, and all the works are made with a view to the exhibition in Lillestrøm.

“What do you convey?"

"Well, the works reflect a time-consuming exploration of the gap between the geometry of antiquity and formlessness," Hedgecock told Romerikes Blad.

The sculptures are made of small polystyrene balls which are assembled to resemble corals and coral reefs that are later hand-painted.

"Hard to control this process?"

“I make the sculptures of small components that are put together. But there are porous issues that easily go unnoticed, ”says Hedgecock.

"Where did you get the idea from?"

“I don’t really know. It started off by gluing some polystyrene balls to a sculpture I was working on, and I liked the effect. Then I got the idea of creating the sculpture only with polystyrene balls.”

"Is there anyone else you know about that works with this material and this way?”

“No, this is my expression. I don't know of anyone else doing it this way.”

 

Woodstock

The exhibition’s perhaps most striking work is the massive pencil drawing. It is constructed from thousands of microscopic circles that together reveal the skeleton of a large mammal. The result is an image that is temporarily trapped like a fossil in the surface of the paper, before it goes into star dust and disappears out of sight.

“The title is taken from Joni Mitchell’s song ‘Woodstock’, a text that leads to a journey.”

Artist Aisling Hedgecock regularly exhibits in the UK and Europe. Her work has been purchased by several major European collections.

"It is a scoop to get her to Norway, and I hope as many as possible will visit us”, says Rikke Komissar.

The exhibition continues until June 9.

Interview with Aisling Hedgecock & Stefania Vourazeri, 2011, published in FAD online arts and culture journal. This coincided with the opening of The Third Stellation, Hedgecock's solo show at Galerie Gabriel Rolt, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 

DONEGAL BORN ARTIST AISLING HEDGECOCK SPEAKS EXCLUSIVE TO FAD ABOUT HER SOLO EXHIBITION “THE THIRD STELLATION” PRESENTED BY GALERIE GABRIEL ROLT IN AMSTERDAM, HER ARTISTIC PRACTICE AND HER NEW WORKS. SHE UNRAVELS HER CONCEPT AND HER SOURCES OF INSPIRATION. HER STUNNING NEW PIECE “THE THIRD STELLATION”, BLENDS THE LINE BETWEEN SCULPTURE AND DRAWING. INSPIRED BY JOHANNE KEPLER, THE GERMAN MATHEMATICIAN, ASTRONOMER AND ASTROLOGER AND BY OTHER 20TH CENTURY ARTISTS, HEDGECOCK CREATES NEW IMAGES BY THE MULTIPLE TRANSFORMATIONS OF HER PIECES.

By Stefania Vourazeri

SV: Tell me a bit more about the conceptual side of your work
AH:Mostly it’s examining the turbulence of matter as it shifts between different states of being. This might include looking at the relationship between fragility and sculpture, or formlessness and drawing. I use meticulous craft and intuitive processes with materials discarded, or otherwise considered peripheral to modernity’s project.

SV: You are fascinated by stellations. Could you expand a bit more on stellations and ways in which the idea of a stellation is part of your work ...

AH: Firstly, language isn’t the best tool for the job here. I could draw you a picture of a stellation, and where it comes from, which would be far easier than explaining it with words. This is important as I construct the world around me more in terms of drawing, not linguistics. In basic geometrical terms, a ‘stellation’ describes the three-dimensional projection of a two-dimensional plane. However, it was Johannes Kepler, the German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, who in 1619 defined the stellation of polyhedra as the process of extending edges or faces until they meet to form a new polygon or polyhedron. The common use of the verb ‘to stellate’ comes later in the 1660’s, meaning star- spangled, covered with stars, to set something with stars.

In The Third Stellation, the new sculpture presented at Galerie Gabriel Rolt, I wanted to take Kepler’s twelve pointed star, or as it’s known technically, the ‘Great Stellated Dodecahedron’, and see what would happen if you didn’t make his intended star shape, but just kept adding to the equation to make a potentially endless form. I was hoping that something like a whole galaxy might result. The Third Stellation also takes the formal relationship between drawing and sculpture to dynamic and extreme ends, dissolving the traditional boundaries between both disciplines.

SV: The main sculpture piece for your solo exhibition at Gabriel Rolt Gallery has been produced by the process of productive destruction and has now taken a new form and thus a new meaning. Why you chose this destructive but productive process?

AH: Destructiveness versus productiveness is a huge and fascinating area, and personally I have a tendency towards a non-precious relationship with work made in the studio. That might seem ironic, as much of my work is so fragile. Things break a lot so I’m well trained not to care if they do. It feels healthy in fact, and as if the work can then enter into processes and states of non-linear flux. Acts of productive destruction are also to do with very practical issues of storage and recycling. It’s a real problem artists are faced with, especially if you’re inclined to make large work. Therefore I tend to re-work materials in different spaces for different exhibitions, and this allows for more site-responsive outcomes. The polystyrene pieces in this show for example already have had many previous lives over the past years. The drawings that constitute The Third Stellation have likewise undergone multiple transformations. Beyond practical concerns, there’s also a conceptual context for working in this manner that has deep roots in 20th century art history, with Duchamp and Dada, leading to the Situational Detournements; to Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning Drawing, or Susan Hiller’s Relics, right up to Michael Landy’s recent monument to creative recycling, Art Bin.

SV: What’s the concept behind the tiny, glued polystyrene balls sculptures? In other words, is there a particular reason why you choose polystyrene balls as a material to construct these sculptures?

AH: When I glue the seemingly infinite number of balls together, it results in something that mirrors patterns of bio-geological growth. The structures have an abject and viral quality, but one which is nonetheless compellingly seductive to the eye. The etymology of Baroque comes from ‘barocca’, a Portuguese word dating from 1765 meaning ‘imperfect pearl’, I found it fascinating that at the same time Bernini was creating his most fluid sculpture and architecture, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was becoming ‘the father of microbiology’ thanks to improvements he had made on early microscopes. So in both artistic production and scientific investigation, therefore, the nature of the material world is being scrutinized and destabilized. It feels like a pertinent area to think about today. There is, of course an ethical and even environmental issue at play here. The composite material – beads, paint, and glue – has a floriferous or coral-like beauty, but it doesn’t take long before you’re thinking about large islands of detritus floating around the world’s oceans, given that polystyrene takes nine hundred years to break down.

SV: I can see that you are interested in geometric paths and how these are found in nature. However you use synthetic material to illustrate these paths on your work. Tell me a bit more about your interest in nature’s geometric patterns..

AH: Take the patterns and relationships found in fluid dynamics...there are geometrical laws at play there in what appears at first sight to be complete chaos. If you drop ink into a clear glass of water, the result is a micro-world that resembles images of the formations of The Eagle Nebula, a gaseous entity so huge that it would take seven light years to traverse. That little ink experiment has been the starting point for the recent series of drawing over the past few years.

The Third Stellation, Galerie Gabriel Rolt, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Opening 19th Feb 2011 Until 2nd April 2011

INTERVIEW FROM NRC, DUTCH PRESS 2011

My work / Aisling Hedgecock

Descent into a fantasy cave

 

Aisling Hedgecock (1979) was born in Donegal, Ireland, and grew up in England. For the past two years she stayed in Rome, where she was inspired by the baroque painting and architecture.

 

"My drawings and sculptures are quite labour-intensive, and I work on it continuously for months. When I go to my studio, I really want to clock in and make an eight-hour workday. I work as a drawing machine: day in, day out with my nose close to the paper. The composition is created very intuitively, as if the drawing grows organically under my hands. My workspace is too small to take a distance. Here in the gallery I see for the first time how the drawings turned out.

I have lived in Rome for the past two years. There I became fascinated by the way in which architecture, painting and sculpture merge in the Baroque. You can see that in my drawings. They refer to those baroque architectural spaces. They are a kind of caves, but it is unclear whether they were man-made or organically grown. I am quite claustrophobic by nature, so I would never enter a cave. I prefer to research through drawing. Especially when I work at night, with a lamp on my head, I feel like a miner who descends into fantasy.

I love strange growth forms from nature, for example stalagmites and stalactites. I have an aquarium in my studio where I experiment with liquids. Then I drop ink in the water and see how the most amazing shapes are created there. But I also like to look at the pictures taken by the Hubble telescope in the universe, and the illustrations that Ernst Haeckel made in the late nineteenth century of the cells he saw under his microscope. I also really think there is a relationship between Baroque and microbiology. I think the invention of the microscope by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek in the late sixteenth century influenced Bernini's sculptures. I don’t know if they knew each other, but I would like to believe in that synchronicity.

My drawings and sculptures are abstract, yet recognizable. As if you look at the clouds and see faces in them. For example, my polystyrene images are reminiscent of deep underwater worlds full of corals. But you could also see a malignant virus in it, with tumors that grow into space. I make these sculptures in a rather abstract expressionist way, by throwing chunks of polystyrene on the floor and throwing them over them like a kind of Jackson Pollock painting. Then I glue the colored balls together piece by piece.

My latest work consists of a mix between drawing and sculpture. It is an image that seems to slide across the floor like a lava flow in Galerie Gabriel Rolt. It contains six or seven drawings that I have made in the past ten years. I was not satisfied with it. So I cut them up and folded them into triangular shapes. It was a painful process – there were so many hours of labour in those drawings – but the great thing is that that destructive act created something I'm very happy with.

PRESS RELEASE, THE THIRD STELLATION,

GALERIE GABRIEL ROLT, AMSTERDAM, 2011

Galerie Gabriel Rolt is delighted to present a series of new works by British artist Aisling Hedgecock. In this, her first solo exhibition with the gallery, Hedgecock will exhibit a large-scale sculpture that marks a major new direction in her practice, alongside a series of recent drawings and smaller sculptural works.

The Third Stellation draws its title from the idealized polyhedral forms believed from antiquity to underlie the perceivable world. Although the ordering of formlessness has been an integral part of Hedgecock’s practice to date – her polychromatic polystyrene sculptures often echoing the unruly baroque of bio- geological growth – The Third Stellation reflects, primarily through drawing, the artist’s growing interest in the apparent geometries concealed within natural entities.

In geometrical terms, a ‘stellation’ describes the three-dimensional projection of a two-dimensional plane, a spatial relationship that, for Hedgecock, echoes the dynamic interface between sculpture and drawing. The multi-faceted undulating structure that dominates the gallery collapses these categorical boundaries, as it advances from wall to floor with a magma-like creep. Each triangulated facet derives from a meticulous act of productive destruction: existing large-scale graphite drawings (a two meter flayed sheep from 2001, and a three-meter high cloaked Virgin from 2003 among others) were cut, folded, and glued together to render a vast differentiated field of stellated mark-making. The turbulent character of this topological folly can be found elsewhere in drawings and smaller sculptures that appear to map fantastical landscapes undergoing seismic, even cosmic disruption. Hedgecock plots algorithmic paths and underlying geometries within these images of flux, as if drawing itself might somehow decode the allotropic structures of carbon, the asterism of seeding fruit, or the skeletal remains suspended within the ocean’s radiolarian ooze.

THE INDEPENDENT, 2007 NEXT BIG THINGS, 'THE ARTIST'

BY MICHAEL GLOVER

The artist: Aisling Hedgecock

The most recent graduate sculpture show at London's Royal College of Art was as much an exploration of space as of materials. There was object-making, video, part of a house to walk around, and even a boxing ring. The work that looked strongest was a mixture of object-making and drawing made by a young sculptor called Aisling Hedgecock.

The sculptural forms fascinated. They sprawled across the floor, spilled massings of tree or plant shapes in cartoonishly fantastical colours, and all created from tiny individual beads, I discovered. What was even better were the drawings on the wall behind the objects. These were the most meticulous of line drawings: sinuous, flowing shapes of varying densities. The drawings and objects feel part replications of organic forms, and part fantastical, made things loosely based on ideas of molecular structures. She is both a meticulous craftswoman and someone whose work seems to indulge in flights of Baroque fantasy. It's both ingenious and lovely.

Her family has a long history of hand-crafting. Her grandmother was a tailor, her great-grandfather a blacksmith. Both her parents are artists. "As a child, I spent a lot of time running around the hills of Donegal, playing with mud and plants," she says. She's still doing so, but now she is pressing thousands of polystyrene beads into service.

At the moment Aisling is studying at the British School at Rome, having won the Sainsbury Scholarship in Drawing and Sculpture, which continues until September 2007. Her work will be on show next year (aislinghedgecock.co.uk for details). She's on her way.

Chosen by Michael Glover

PIEPSCHUIM ALS KUNST IN A"DAM, DUTCH PRESS FROM 2007

POLYSTYRENE AS ART IN AMSTERDAM

Artist Aisling Hedgecock is putting the finishing touches to her artwork for the exhibition "Paradise Love Bar" at Galerie Gabriel Rolt in Amsterdam. The Irish Hedgecock has recently been nominated for the 2007 Next Big Thing talent award by the British newspaper “The Independent”. Hedgecock's artwork is a sculpture of about four metres high, consisting entirely of polystyrene foam balls of a millimeter to half a centimeter in size. The exhibition opened last Saturday [13th January 2007] and will run until 24th February.

Photo Bram Budel

'ON TIME' THE COURTAULD INSTITUTE OF ART,

EAST WING COLLECTION VIII, CATALOGUE TEXT, 2008 

Aisling Hedgecock’s site-specific sculpture created especially for the  East wing Collection emerge from the walls resembling living organisms, frozen at a stage in their evolution. Each work is idiosyncratic, built of the same materials but put together in slightly different ways which recall ideas of molecular structures. They are created from a seemingly infinite number of tiny polystyrene balls, painstakingly individually coloured and covered in glue before being joined together to form a semblance of organic growth. The works occupy the fluid mid-ground between being and becoming, appearing to be both fixed and eternally developing with the possibility of continuation implicit in the process. The material echoes this tentatively balanced position; the artist describes the polystyrene balls as ‘neither flesh nor stone’, not completely permanent nor totally transient. 

 

There are tensions surrounding the modern fabric of the works. The industrial man-made material is at odds with the sense of natural forms and organic growth conveyed by the sculptures. Furthermore, parallels can be drawn between the repetitive process of assembling these constructions and that found in the history of feminine hand-crafts such as lace-making. Coming from a family with a history of hand-crafts (her grandmother was a seamstress and her grandfather a blacksmith) the adoption of this type of anachronistic method imbues her work with a sense of nostalgia which sits uneasily with the 21st century substance used. The intricate and individual character of her highly detailed hand-made work also seems paradoxical with the everyday use of the mass-manufactured polystyrene balls. 

With special thanks to JB for the archival support & fine-toothed comb :) 

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