VICTORIA RANCE: THE NIGHT HORSE AND THE HOLY BABOON
Sculptures, Drawings, Photographs and Animations 2007-2017 23-30 October 2017 The Cello Factory, 34 Cornwall Road, Waterloo, London SE1 8TJ
A ten-year retrospective of over 70 works by one of the UK’s leading and innovative sculptors. The winner of the Mark Tanner Award, with two exhibitions at Sculpture at Goodwood under her belt, Victoria has completed a series of prestigious commissions over the past ten years from London’s Economist Plaza, Chelsea Physic Garden and St Andrew’s Church Waterloo to De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill and Glyndebourne Opera, East Sussex. Her versatile yet distinctive works - from sculpture to wear to architectural installations to tiny talismanic objects - have earned her invitations to international exhibitions as well as Arts Council England and European Cultural Foundation awards.
Victoria Rance creates interactive sculptures – viewers are invited to climb inside, wear or hold the works. She records the sculpture-viewer interactions using photography, video and animation and then presents the recordings as part of the installations.
Rance’s ‘Sculpture to Wear’ works create a shield that protects the wearer’s inner self from the outer world - or in the artist’s own words “a sheltering skin that protects or alters the sense of self, provoking ambivalent responses in the wearer and the viewer”. The sculptures have elements of ceremonial architecture and costume, both contemporary and historical. Examples in this series include ‘SOS 2013’, a copper bodice inspired by Islamic armour in The Metropolitan Museum New York and ‘Tabard’ a work made of jute, wax and palm stalks that was made after watching porcupines raise their quills in self defence. Rance’s Sculpture to Wear works have been shown to critical acclaim at Standpoint Gallery, Hoxton, London, Erkan Yavuz Experimental Art Studio, Turkey, Bearspace Gallery, Deptford, at the BBK Kunst-Quartier, Osnabruck, Germany and at Lubormirov-Angus-Hughes and Morley Galleries, London.
Two new works for this Cello Factory retrospective are large scale mixed media sculptures of two mythical creatures: The Nigerian ‘Night Horse’ and the Egyptian ‘Holy Baboon’. The Night Horse can be ridden without anyone seeing the rider. The story is that you can ride the horse to kill your enemies in secret and return unnoticed. The Holy Baboon is a temple guardian that watches over sacred places and morality. The Holy Baboon believes that murder is wrong - so the two separate creatures face each other. The work relates to contemporary politics as it was initially inspired by Victoria’s experience of meeting liberal-minded people who said that they would personally like to murder President Trump, an act that they believe to be noble and morally right. The themes of invisibility, morality, ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ selves run throughout Rance’s work.
'I Wish' is an ongoing project started in 2013 where a series of participants (who include hospital patients, refugees and school children) were invited to describe a wish to Victoria which she then made into a talismanic type object. Rance has recorded each ‘wisher’ holding their object in a film. Through these works, Victoria explores our relationship with superstition and spirituality. “I want to create objects that are loaded with a meaning that is outside our material value system.” She says. ‘I Wish’ has been a huge success with commissions for Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Invicta and Montebelle Schools, and the Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network all in the South London Boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham. I Wish was awarded a Deptford X Prize in 2014 and then commissioned for Deptford X 2015.
In 'Otherworld', a series started in 2015, Rance looks at the connections, real and mythological, between humans, animals and nature. She creates ‘families’ of tiny detailed pewter sculptures and sets them in tableaux scenes. The mythological character ‘Loki’ is a key figure in this group. Loki is a mischievous shape-shifting figure who moves between man and gods like Hermes. Previews of ‘Otherworld’ have been shown at Morley Gallery and Lubomirov-Angus-Hughes London, but this will be first time that the series has been shown in its entirety.
Victoria Rance has an ongoing interest in feminism and the place of women in society on an international level. She has travelled widely to investigate the spaces, physical and emotional that women occupy around the world, for example historical harems and the female-only areas of mosques. She creates sculptures for women to step into - that suggest liberation, protection and imprisonment at the same time - to give the audience time to reflect on these issues. Renowned feminist art critic Katy Deepwell wrote of Space for a Woman: “This ornate work is a cage, a screen trapping its subject into a corner. The ambivalence is clear in the way that this structure offers protection and security but it leaves no room to manoeuvre. It’s a ‘freedom’ in security which involves considerable sacrifice.” Rance won a European Cultural Foundation Travel Award for a residency in Istanbul in 2011 for this project.
“Rance provides us with the phonemes of a visual language, the minimal visual signifiers that the viewer needs, once drawn into these works, to participate in a language that speaks of the richness, complexity and depth of life itself."
Charles Pickstone, Image Journal USA