Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Malene Hartmann Rasmussen creates mixed media installations incorporating sculpture, print and found objects. Nightfall is a ceramic nest made of twisted black antlers, speckled acorn eggs and delicate butterflies. The work explores the theme of the forest and the wild land beyond the cultivated fields that has captured our imaginations for centuries. In Norse mythology, the dark Scandinavian forests are inhabited by elves, trolls, witches and giants. These same creatures are found in 17th century fairy-tales, from Sleeping Beauty through to Little Red Riding Hood, as lore and legend morph into fantasy and fiction. Nightfall’s antlers, acorn eggs and butterflies also suggest links to the surrounding countryside and customs of Wiltshire.
The forest continues to act as an important construct in contemporary culture, being the sinister backdrop for countless horror movies and novels. In all appearances, it is a place of danger, adventure and magic. Hartmann Rasmussen enters the woods at that most magical time of the day, twilight. It is when daylight fades, and with it our sense of security, that crepuscular creatures emerge from their dens and trees start to talk. This moment of transformation is embedded in Hartmann Rasmussen’s sculptures, the once soft clay now hardened into fragile ceramic. This boundary, between living and non-living, animal and human, plant and creature, is a constant source of intrigue for the artist. Each composition points to a hidden narrative, which we are invited to piece together from our imagination.
Swindon Museum & Art Gallery has a collection that includes fine art, craft and local folk objects. Nightfall makes connections to all these collections, demonstrating Hartmann Rasmussen’s awareness of ceramic history whilst also being informed by a broader range of contemporary cultural interests. This timely acquisition ensures that Swindon continues to be a centre for modern and contemporary ceramics.
Malene Hartmann Rasmussen (b. 1973, Hillerød, Denmark) lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Messums, London (2019); Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth (2016); Jessica Carlisle, London (2014). Recent group exhibitions include Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2018); Fondation Bernardaud, Limoges (2017); Jerwood Visual Arts, London (2015). In 2018 she was a resident artist at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society through the Omega Fund, 2018/19