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Rachel Gadsden is a visual artist who has been developing and creating artwork that uses a psychogeographic methodology. This approach has taken her to the streets of Bogotá in Colombia; to the confining walls of a young offenders institution; to a deserted colliery in South Wales, where the failure of industry and the poverty threatened the moral fibre of the community; to Ruthin Gaol (1404), to the derelict Cane Hill and Denbigh Asylum Hospitals, where souls and voices of the past still inhabit the ruins; and to Hampton Court Palace. The experience of working amongst these rich and diverse landscapes where individuals from each of the communities generously shared their emotions and life stories has enriched Rachel’s understanding and has helped her perhaps, to expose a little more of what it is to be human. It is this knowledge that RacheI brings to the artwork, a universal experience. The more recent artwork is deliberately large scale such that the physical energy and pulse of consciousness as it embarks on its imagined expeditions is captured within the artwork. The repetitive process of drawing assists a smooth transition from reality to the imaginary, where only conscious intervention limits the vitality of the adventure. The fussy materiality of the earlier work has been discarded and instead the blots, leaks and clots of the mark making are, it could be said, reminiscent of body processes over which we have a barely adequate control. Likewise the butcher’s-block palette, with its fatty yellows and liverish purples, undermines any feelings of aesthetic detachment: it is as if you are being turned inside out. But, nevertheless, beyond these corporeal references a narrative unfolds in which fragmented memories re-emerge at a dance and reveal a clearer universal landscape. Rachel has a BAhons and an MA in Fine Art and has won a number of awards including the Juliet Gomperts Memorial Scholarship and the William Brooking Research Scholarship. In 1999 a series of Rachel’s drawings was exhibited in the Dostoyevsky Museum, St Petersburg, Russia. In 2003 Rachel’s Wasteland painting (part of the Penallta Colliery Series) was awarded the Most Popular Painting Prize in the Hunting Art Prizes Competition and Touching Angels (Iraq) People’s Choice Prize at the Holton Lee International Disability Arts Competition 2007. In 2007 Rachel was appointed Historic Royal Palaces first Artist in Residence at Hampton Court Palace; in November 2008 Rachel will be exhibiting the results of the residency at the Palace. Recently Rachel was commissioned to produce a series of artworks for the Beijing - London Paralympics Handover and Stoke Mandeville 60th Anniversary Celebrations, and has been an active member of Architecture Inside Out since 2005.
By: Jo Wilson
The Lightbox, the new gallery and museum currently under construction in Woking, Surrey, is pioneering an innovative mental health and art project that aligns the history of this sensitive and ofte Subscribers read on…
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