Artist Profile: Abigail Lane

1 October 2018

Sara Cooper, Head of Collections at Towner Art Gallery writes about the work of artist Abigail Lane whose Collection work Ink Pad 1 is currently showing as part of their National Partnership exhibition the Everyday and Extraordinary.


Artist Abigail Lane studied at Goldsmiths College, before becoming one of the key figures in the Young British Artists (YBA) movement. She was part of the seminal 1988 Freeze exhibition, organised by Damien Hirst with fellow Goldsmiths students including Anya Gallaccio, Michael Landy and Sarah Lucas. Lane left London in 2007 to live and work in Suffolk. As well as exhibiting widely both nationally and internationally she is also a curator. Notably, between 2000 and 2015 she curated the contemporary visual art exhibition SNAP, part of Suffolk’s Aldeburgh Festival.

Abigail Lane’s work is predominantly sculpture and installation based but spans a range of medium including video, sound, and photography, as well as found objects, print and text.  Her work often explores dark or sinister themes but does so with a wry, mischievous humour that makes it both intriguing and engaging.





In 1991 Lane responded to publicity by a London-based, rubber stamp company who advertised ‘Ink Pads – any size possible’, which inspired the creation of the first of her Ink Pad series. To the surprise of the company, Lane ordered an inkpad approximately her own body size. The resulting work Ink Pad 1, 1991 is currently on display as part of The Everyday and Extraordinary at the Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne. Here it is being shown amongst the work of other artists who take found or everyday objects and transform them into something new, to communicate a particular idea or concept often using satire and humour in the process. As an object of everyday office stationary, inkpads are usually functional rather than something to be looked at.



Following production of the first Ink Pad, Lane went on to make a series in various colours and sizes, as large as 8x10ft. The pads have an aluminium base covered with felt layers, cotton and ink. Designed to be exhibited open, mounted on the wall, they cross classification between sculpture, painting and installation, and are turned in to something almost iconic. The felt pad is infused with black ink, which during the course of an exhibition, as the ink dries, needs to be replenished with a damp sponge so that the surface remains saturated and moist. This ongoing process means the work is never truly complete and each time it is displayed, draws others into the artistic process.

The Everyday and Extraordinary is a touring exhibition conceived by Birmingham Museums Trust, in partnership with Towner Art Gallery as part of the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme 2016-19.

Sara Cooper

Head of Collections, Towner Art Gallery


The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.