firstsite presents Culpable Earth, the first major solo exhibition by British artist Steven Claydon in a UK public gallery. Culpable Earth includes newly commissioned sculpture, video, painting and print, developed by the artist and shown for the first time in this exhibition.
Claydon describes his work as being concerned with the ‘passage of materials’, namely, how materials journey from raw matter into cultural artefact. In doing so, he raises questions about the value of everyday objects. The artist sees objects as being ‘culpable’, in the sense that they reveal something about society at large. However small his starting point, a mass of atoms or a grouping of coloured pixels, Claydon combines materials and concepts in endlessly complex structures.
Claydon’s sculptures often present highly crafted objects in bespoke structures that visually reference museum displays. He brings together objects recalling historical artefacts – such as portrait busts, pots and vessels – cultural ephemera and geological samples, skilfully mixing different cultures and periods of history. Ancient technologies are combined with modern, electronic equipment and traditional craft skills are presented in digital video installations. Through these combinations, Claydon creates new, hybrid objects.
Merging reality with fiction, and appearing at once meaningful and useless, Claydon’s works oscillate between an idea of truth and fantasy, seeming to offer a fragmented image of a future civilisation’s past.
A new publication on Steven Claydon’s work will be launched during the exhibition. This 144-page book, featuring over 300 illustrations and previously unpublished texts, will include an extended interview between the artist and Martin Clark, Artistic Director, Tate St Ives.
Steven Claydon was born in 1969 in London and studied Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art & Design and Central St Martins School of Art & Design, London. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at Salle de Bains, Lyon (2011); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2010) and White Columns, New york (2006). Other major exhibitions in which his work has been featured include the national touring exhibition British Art Show 7 (2011); Newspeak: British Art Now at the Saatchi Gallery (2010), London; The Dark Monarch, Tate St Ives (2009). He lives and works in London.
Culpable Earth has been realised with the support of Arts Council England and the Henry Moore Foundation.