Artist Profile: Liv Preston

23 November 2021

This month’s Artist Profile focuses on Liv Preston, whose works DOG QUEST, 2020, and Casual(ty?), 2021, were recently acquired by the Arts Council Collection. DOG QUEST is currently included in the exhibition Right About Now at No.9 Cork Street in London and Casual(ty?) features in Where There’s Space to Grow at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

 

Born in Keighley and raised in Bradford, Liv Preston is heavily influenced by the material language of West Yorkshire. Combined with her obsessive interest in video gaming, the subterranean and science fiction publications such as 2000 AD, her practice primarily manifests as a combination of sculpture and conceptual gestures. Collections of objects are identified and mined, employing their unique material qualities and contexts. Their forms of display often resist and chew on traditional ways of installing art, as well as the politics surrounding these gestures. They imply mischief or danger in their presentation, deliberately undermining themselves in relation to their environments.

 

Cast from the slate window sill of an outbuilding at Pen Yr Orsedd, an abandoned quarry in North Wales, DOG QUEST documents a piece of graffiti of a dog's head. Discovered originally by a friend of the artist, a team was assembled to travel 240 miles to investigate the drawing in situ. By establishing the production of the work as a quest, the outcome exists as something closer to a treasure or relic than simply a record of a surface. It is a nod to the representation and consistent presence of dogs within human culture, while also pondering the closeness, or sometimes violence of this relationship. The members of DOG QUEST are Karl Fisher, Millie Leyton, Sam Keelan, Kobby Adi, Cat Tandy, Rowan Rossetter.

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Casual(ty?) is made from a well-used Petzl caving helmet. While this may appear to have been discarded or left behind, it’s actually thoughtfully positioned to illuminate a nearby artwork with its torches. In video games, it’s common to encounter objects on the ground after completing a challenge or defeating an enemy, before they disappear or are retrieved by the player. It is intended by the artist that the helmet be wedged using any available item or material, ideally the simplest solution. For example, it has previously been angled using a spare screw from a member of the gallery installation team’s pocket. The economy of this decision is resistant to the usual fuss of installing artworks, whilst in an act of reversal, the piece itself plays the role of a spotlight.

 

Right About Now is on view at No.9 Cork Street until 15 December 2021. Where There’s Space to Grow is on view at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens from 15 January until 13 March 2022. Find out more about the exhibitions here.

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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.