Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Hew Locke artist talk

This week's visiting lecturer at Newcastle University was Hew Locke. Born in Edinburgh, Locke spent the majority of his youth in Guyana before returning to the UK to embark on an MA in sculpture at the Royal College of Art.
"Locke explores the languages of colonial and post-colonial power, how different cultures fashion their identities through visual symbols of authority, and how these representations are altered by the passage of time. These explorations have led Locke to a wide range of subject matters, imagery and media, assembling sources across time and space in his deeply layered artworks.

More recently, Locke has explored ships as images, objects and also physical sites for artistic interventions, discovering in the ship a potent symbolism as an instrument of control in warfare, trade and culture. 

He has also initiated a series of altered share certificates, now-obsolete documents referring to this same violent, turbulent history of colonial trade, ownership and power, as well as subtly referencing the contemporary art world’s participation in commodity culture.

Across his work, Locke’s ability to fuse existing material and historic sources with his own political or cultural concerns, whether via visual juxtapositions or through the re-working of a pre-existing object or photograph, leads to witty and innovative amalgamations of history and modernity. This layering of time is accompanied by a unique merging of influences from the artist’s native Guyana and London, where Locke now lives and works, leading to richly textured, visually vibrant pieces that stand on a crossroad of histories, cultures and media."

It was a joy to hear Locke speak so openly about life as an artist. He recognises that, at times, he has taken on a project because he needed to pay the bills, rather than it being something that interests him artistically. 

When asked why he makes art, Locke replied, "because if I didn't, I would be ill." 

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