Houldsworth Fine Art is pleased to present an installation of new sculptures by London-based artist Laura Ford. Since emerging in the late 1980s, Ford has shown widely in Britain and the US. This will be her first solo exhibition with Houldsworth.
Fordīs sculptural imagination has always been double-edged: violence lurks within peaceable calm, horror within charm. In Desperados her outlook seems melancholic. The gallery is cluttered with childlike figures, soft and benign, dressed like schoolchildren in the playground, yet the patterns and textiles of their skin disguise their faces. A figure struggles to lift himself onto wooden stilts, another sits morosely in the corner, a pair trudge across the gallery floor and an ice skater has capsized, lying with legs akimbo in the soft, woolly snow.
Ford is dramatising one of the most enduring and unnerving preoccupations of the last century: the sexual formation and social reproduction of adulthood. As Desperados demonstrates, education is not only a gentle and gradual tutoring but also a brutal, lonely and humiliating battle. These characters want desperately to be noticed, and with almost heroic proportions, they force themselves up one by one, carry their burden alone and recover from the inevitable scrapes and tumbles of childhood.
Fordīs sculptural practice might be read as emerging from the installations of the 1980s, but it could also be seen as a curious take on the oldest form of sculpture, the monumental figure. She has left aside the old mediums of stone and bronze and found the inspiration for a new and potent form in stuffed childhood dolls. These arenīt merely shaped forms, but symbols with tactility and visceral resonance, new and desperate statues.
Laura Ford recently exhibited in the British Art Show 5 (2000), Fun de Sičcle, Walsall Museum (1998) and New Art from Britain, Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria (1998). She was also in two-person shows at the Camden Arts Centre, London and the Arnolfini, Bristol. Her work is in numerous collections, including the Arts Council of Great Britain, Contemporary Art Society, Government Art Collection and Tate Gallery. She is a senior lecturer at Middlesex University.