Derek Carruthers’ artistic practice spans over 60 years. His early works include constructivist-style mobiles made up of brightly coloured, abstract shapes, which move to create new configurations of form and pattern. In addition, he has produced an extensive series of paintings of lay figures, or wooden mannequins, a motif that has preoccupied him since the late 1980s. These figures seem to stand for humanity, their jointed limbs hinting at themes of oppression, confinement and pathos. In Snakes and Ladders, 2018 a large number of the dummies are seen attempting to climb ladders, as if fleeing a terrifying fate. They clamber desperately over each other, one fallen figure covering its face with its fingerless hands in despair, while snakes coil below. This sense of constraint and limitation creates a mood of underlying horror, perhaps a metaphor for the struggles of modern existence.
- Artwork Details: 75 x 38cm
- Material description: Oil on canvas
- Credit line: © the artist. Image courtesy of the artist
- Medium: Painting
- Accession number: ACC24/2019