This month, Rachel Graves, Collections Coordinator (Longside) writes about the work of British artist Veronica Ryan, whose Collection series shows as part of ACC Touring exhibition In My Shoes.
Veronica Ryan is a British artist who divides her time between the UK and New York. She is best known for her sculptural works which are made from materials including plaster, lead, bronze, textiles, and found objects and often incorporate organic forms such as large seed pods and fruit. Throughout her career Ryan has explored the cultural dynamics and psychological impact of place and migration, which she has experienced directly in her own life, having moved from the Caribbean island of Montserrat to Britain with her family as a child. Within her works, pod-like shapes are often contained and cushioned within larger forms, grouped together as if they are a collection of carefully assembled devotional objects. Her work has been included in several major Arts Council Collection touring exhibitions, including Making It: Sculpture in Britain 1977-1986.
Lamentations in the Garden (2000) which can currently be seen in In My Shoes: Art & the Self since the 1990s is a series in which Ryan altered a family photograph of herself and her sister standing in the family’s back garden in London, overpainting and concealing parts of the image in white acrylic paint and black ink. The piece is one part of a wider body of work the artist produced during a residency at Tate St Ives between 1998 and 2000. The Cornish landscape around St Ives felt to Ryan strongly reminiscent of the Caribbean island of Montserrat where she was born, and this prompted the artist to revisit some of her earliest childhood memories in the work that resulted.
Working with photographs was, at the time, a new addition to Ryan’s practice. The immediacy of the photographic image and its relationship to memory had a strong relevance to the subject matter that she was exploring at this time:
“After the death of a second sibling, both due to suicide, I wanted to find a direct way in my work to deal with that particular kind of loss and grief; this was the only way.”
In My Shoes: Art & the Self since the 1990s is currently showing at the RSC’s PACCAR Room and tours throughout 2019 to venues in Wales and Nottinghamshire.