New Skin For An Old Ceremony
“I locked you in this body”
“I meant it as a kind of trial”
Leonard Cohen – Lover, Lover, Lover
“While traveling in East Africa in 2001 I came across the remains of an elephant. There was little left as it had been mostly scavenged. All that remained were a scattered arrangement of bones and its vast deflated skin, draped and folded like a collapsed tent.
The image of that scene has always stayed with me. It was a visceral encounter. Here was a body become landscape, a body both present and absent in which the distinction between the inner and outer had evaporated in the heat and decay. It was a body you could walk through.
I’ve always worked with material that was discarded or overlooked. But of all those objects that I ever encountered, this is the one I wanted most to possess, though how and in what way, I could never define or understand. It was, of course, a found object that was impossible to retrieve and probably for that reason, this dead and distant form has haunted me since. Shades and echoes of it have instead emerged elsewhere my work, in assembled hunks of trees that resembled parts of an elephant or the draped, melted skin of a vandalized plastic bin and most recently while I was building clay walls for a cast… As I worked a rolled-out slab of clay it begin to crease and crack and it became, in my mind’s eye, elephant skin… After so long I felt, at least in part, able to recuperate something of this strange, lost encounter and of the unreasoned desire for this abject form’
New Skin for an Old Ceremony is Douglas White’s third solo show at Paradise Row.
White is a sculptor whose work is and is about, transformation, the transformation of materials, transformed states of being and the transformative potential of objects.
He works with the discarded and the lost, both materially and mnemonically, seeking, through the alchemy of the creative act, to recuperate value and perhaps to fix, in the material form of his work, for a while at least, time and memory – an exorcism incarnate.
In this exhibition White presents a series of large sculptures formed of expanses of skin-like, manipulated clay draped over armatures.