10 November – 16 December 2012
2 Herald Street, London E2 6JT
Open Wednesday – Friday 11am-6pm, Saturday – Sunday 12-6pm
Alexandra Bircken is an artist who has attracted interest for her sculptures and installations that combine knitted elements with organic and lowly materials such as hair, leather, dried grass, latex and twigs, creating amulet-like objects with an arts and crafts aesthetic that reflect her background in fashion design and an interest in the radical aspects of handmade culture. Her new show at Herald St in Bethnal Green brings together several new works which reference the body and draw upon the ephemera of everyday environments as an opportunity to open up a range of associations and values. Two works Repeat I and Mixed Race use tights as a device to associate skin with formal ideas of surface and structure, evoking the body abstractly whilst playfully asserting the conventions of painting and sculpture. Two twigs wrapped around each other find themselves sheathed in a tiny pair of adapted tights crudely assembled with a metal clamp (Twiggy), whereas two wall-based sculptures made by casting collapsed balls of wool in bronze, evoke breast-like forms (Twins). Materials are used either for their function – screws, felt stuffing, clamps – or for the figurative associations they create: sticking plasters suggest limbs, old motorbiking leathers, a knee or elbow crease. Some works incorporate skeletal structures festooned with stuff where the material value of these objects – tin, wool or copper – is privileged, and ideas of tension, support and protection recur throughout the show. For those who enjoy work that sits in that rich ‘seam’ (forgive the pun) between fine art and craft, this is a show not to be missed!