Model As You Would Carve
In her art works, Alice Walton boils down many of the questions artists struggle with in rendering their ideas visual, and manifests these questions into her sculptures and drawings. The subject of Walton’s works is often art making itself, and the histories and processes of making art. She obsessively examines the edges of artworks we may recognize, not by title, but simply as products of art: a Renaissance painting, a model from an art lesson, or private view invitations. By masking, drawing over, or cutting out the centre of found images from books, often books of Classical art, Walton leaves us with only the edge of the original image to look at. And away from these edges, what we’re really left to confront is the void left by her marks, and the relation between what’s left behind and what was there initially. With the flashes of recognition she gives usedges of a Pierro della Francesca portrait, or of something that resembles the base of a Rodin sculpturewe’re pushed to question our own assumptions of what we see, and of what we expect to see.
Walton’s practice is a continuous process. Her sculptures and installations extend similar questions as her drawings that start with found imagery. Made of meticulously cut layers of standard brown cardboard (an economical material that juxtaposes the art historical imagery which it frames and supports in her work), Walton’s sculptures, such as her bespoke work for Model as You Would Carve, extend issues of perception beyond her artwork and into the gallery. Untitled (Wall) 2007, a wall made of assembled sculptures, does with the gallery space what Walton does with her individual works: it challenges the viewer to the edge of their space of observation. Placed uncomfortably close to the gallery wall, the work constructs a tight corridor for the viewer to walk through before turning an equally tight corner. Once passed, the wall reveals a single drawing hanging in a relatively generous gallery space.
In Walton’s practice, she rubs something out or covers something up as much as possible, whilst leaving just enough for us to recognise the original. Her practice opens up questions of expectation, recognition, and frustration: Walton challenges us to question the gaps that arise between our assumptions, and the reality we’re then presented with.
Words: Kim Dhillon