MAstars 2013: Paul Gwilliam, MFA

MAstars 2013: Paul Gwilliam, MFA Paul Gwilliam, Sarah, 2013. Cabbages, glass vase, bamboo, ceramic boat, fabric, brick, cardboard, wood, paint, metal tract, leaves

Anna Chrystal Stephens selects Paul Gwilliam from Slade School of Fine Art for MAstars

Paul Gwilliam’s work is full of bodily, seal-like forms. There is a constant suggestion of slow lethargic movement, of both lumbering organisms and bumpy objects. Two lumpy pastel-coloured figures dangle entwined, suspended as if from a trapeze or an airlift rescue cable, although actually the supporting figure hangs from an umbilical rope.

Of the four pieces on display, what interested me most were the two carefully considered assemblages. Quietly knowing, humorous and surreal but somehow commonplace, a kind of subtle aesthetic poetry is at work. 'Sarah' (2013) comprises a variety of organic objects and domestic items, such as kitsch detritus, oriental ornamental elements like bamboo and brush-painted vases, alongside ubiquitous practical materials like tape and cardboard. This has an open but atmospheric narrative element, as if to evoke return from the Orient on a merchant ship, stuff in transit, perhaps for the interior decoration of weird, bespoke, slightly industrial architecture.

'Loving would be easy if your colours were like my dreams' (2013) is a large tree-like, slug-like form, wrapped in parcel tape, patched up. A small minty shelf rests neatly on top, hosting a naively made vase and some dried flowers. Within the sculpture are more traditionally crafted elements: glazed ceramics, in the shape of fungus protruding from the wrapped form, are the log’s ornaments.

Paul Gwilliam Loving You Would Be Easy

Paul Gwilliam, Loving would be easy if your colours were like my dreams, 2013. Parcel tape, newspaper, chair stand, clay, ceramic vase, concrete, roof tile, foam, dead hydrangea flowers

These pieces have an intriguing aesthetic which seems to be part of a subtle language. Soft 1970s pale green, repeated in the ceramics and lump figures, are exaggerated by the collection of cabbages. Packaging materials become artifacts, dried flowers and leaves like brittle shed skins, Japanese decoration, country crafts and classrooms. There is a tension between the heaviness of bodies and clay, and the lightness of spores and exuviae - both manmade and organic. The sculptural elements, natural elements and crafted natural elements have come together in a playful exploration which is nostalgically familiar as well as a little fantastical.

Selected by Anna Chrystal Stephens
Published August, 2013

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About Anna Chrystal Stephens

Anna Chrystal Stephens is an artist based in London, she is the co-founder of Vulpes Vulpes project space in Clapton. She completed an MFA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2012, and holds a BA in Fine Art from Bath Spa University, 2006. She also currently works as a freelance photographer. Previous employment includes photo-editing and text editing Assistant for independent publisher Trolley Books, gallery assistant positions, workshops and educational positions (Vulpes Vulpes, Latymer Projects, Arts Catalyst, Hackney Homes, Dartington Summer Youth Program, 2007-2013). Recent exhibitions include Magnum Opus, N/V_Projects, London, 2013, Glorious Estate, Bruno Glint Gallery, London, 2013, Kiss The Future, Schwartz Gallery, London, 2012 Art Licks Annual, ICA, London, 2012, Goldsmiths MFA degree show, New Cross, London, 2012, Approach Togetherness, The Schoolhouse, (Vulpes Vulpes), London, 2012, Edges, Latymer Pojects, Latimer, London, 2012. Anna received an AHRC scholarship award for study from 2010-2012.

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