‘Psycho Home-Counties’ is Jamie Fitzpatrick’s third solo show with the gallery. The exhibition presents a new body of sculptures with pebbledash fringed works on paper, reflecting on the English Countryside through a tangled narrative drawn from both personal experiences and British folklore.
The exhibition takes place in a distorted version of the home counties. Three large-scale figurative sculptures dominate the ground floor gallery, emblematic of the artist’s iconic, rough style, made of wax and foam. Placed on plinths and measuring up to two and half meters tall, they take the form of Hertfordshire heroes in throws with mythical creatures and animals.
‘Piers Shonks’ is a loose portrayal of the folk hero from Hertfordshire where the artist grew up, who is fabled to have slayed a dragon. Most counties in the UK have a similar tale of a dragon slayer, but normally in relation to St George, the figure of national consciousness. Fitzpatrick recognises and depicts the dragon as representing trauma; a mental state that is ever looming in the British imagination, significantly so in the post-Brexit, post-Covid era, and reflective of uncomfortable notions of nationalism. The dragon also represents a threat to rural communities that are often living precariously. Losing cattle or having the earth scorched is the difference between living through a winter or dying, and so the dragon is a symbol of the potential for complete personal or familial disaster, which the artist also connects to questions of personal and national ill mental health.
Woodwose is a mythical figure and motif that appears in medieval European art and literature whose defining characteristic is its “wildness”. The further two sculptures depict contrasting scenes: in the first, the Woodwose is being brought down by a pack of dogs, whilst in the second it is calmly sitting watching hares in the fields. The plinths, used to stage each figure and its surroundings, turn the scenes depicted into dioramas and maintain their connection to historical, public monuments used to impose nationalistic narratives with specific people or events of history.
The three central works are animated with animatronics and sound. They speak folk tales and sing folk songs which are a subjective analysis of the artist himself and his Englishness, framed against things such as the conservative rhetoric behind countryside preservationists, the ghost histories that lie beneath the soil, landlords and ancient gods, hares, foxes and rabbits, and the current popularity
of adopting an idea of pre-christian englishness as a form of representing a dominant culture as an underdog or victim. Fitzpatrick canonises both emotion and history in contrast to the historical opinion that men shouldn’t show emotion, leading to a reluctance of men to speak about, or deal with, ill mental health. A thread through Fitzpatrick’s practice and present in the show, is his attempt to deconstruct ideas around masculinity and nationhood to undermine and explore their roots. His humorous use of political satire verges on the Monty Pythonesque.
In his works on paper, Fitzpatrick continues his ‘Sketch for a Broken Monument’ series (begun in 2020) under a new title ‘English Gods and English Landlords’, bringing into view the English landscape. Fitzpatrick defaces images of British monuments with pastels and oil bars, exploring the rhetoric of monumental image-making, using humour to render domineering sculptures depicting masculinity andnationhood absurd and dumb. The new works are a culmination of the artist’s residency at Edinburgh Printmakers and test how landscapes on paper can be built in a manner that echo his techniques for building sculpture. In the manner of 17th and 18th Century estate portraits in front of vast property with their threatening glare, the composite locations are displayed with figures foregrounded and challenge the viewer over rights of movement through the picturesque landscape depicted.
Between the gallery space and the courtyard, sculptures of enlarged body parts produced from acrylic cement are exhibited as a scattering of floor based objects. The works reference the collective memory of a people held in soil or land, and is a fragmented self portrait of the artist, which has been partly buried or returned to the land he once walked.
Jamie Fitzpatrick (b.1985, Southport, UK) lives and works in London. He graduated in 2015 with an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, having gained a BA (Hons) in Fine Art, Philosophy and Contemporary Practice in 2009 from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee. Awards include: Vordemberge-Gildewart Award (2016), shortlist; XL Catlin Art Prize (2016); UK/RAINE Saatchi Gallery Sculpture Prize (2015); New Contemporaries (2015 and 2016); Cowley Manor (2015), shortlist; LAND Securities Award (2015).
He has been exhibited internationally at galleries, institutions and art fairs including: Contemporary Forward at Touchstones Rochdale Museum, Rochdale, UK; Exeter Phoenix, UK; ICA, London, UK; Camden Arts Centre, London, UK; Saatchi Gallery, London, UK; Sheffield Museum, Sheffield, UK; Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, UK; Bluecoat, Liverpool, UK; Backlit, Nottingham, UK; Pangaea Sculptor’s Centre, London, UK; Cowley Manor Sculpture Garden, Cheltenham, UK; Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, UK; VITRINE London, UK and Basel, CH; Deborah Bowman, Brussels, BE; Litóst gallery in Prague, CZ; PADA Barreiro, PT; Cassina Projects with ARTUNER, New York, US; ARTISSIMA, Turin, IT; and POPPOSITIONS, Brussels, BE; ASC Gallery, London, UK; Contemporary Sculpture Fulmer, UK.
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