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Hepworth Wakefield presents 'The Unquiet Head' exhibition
Installation view of The Intended, 2011, Clare Woods. Photo: Gabriel Szabo/Guzelian.

WAKEFIELD.- The Hepworth Wakefield presents The Unquiet Head, an exhibition of new works by British painter Clare Woods from Saturday 22 October 2011 until Sunday 29 January 2012. These paintings have been newly commissioned as part of the gallery’s temporary exhibitions programme that runs in parallel to its permanent collection displays.

Measuring up to 10.5 metres long and 6 metres high, Clare Woods’ works respond to the architectural scale of the gallery spaces and explore her close affinity to the work of 20th century British artists with an interest in the landscape and natural forms.

Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield says: “I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Clare in the past and I look forward to seeing how she responds to the exquisite gallery spaces that David Chipperfield Architects have created for us and the rich context of our collection.”

Photographs taken at Brimham Rocks and Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire are used as a starting point for Woods’ paintings, which explore man’s psychological relationship with the landscape; our fascination with, and fear of, its uncontrollable nature and elemental power. They centre on rock formations found within the British landscape and monumental ancient stones that have been a formative influence on modern British artists, including Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Paul Nash, John Piper and Graham Sutherland.

Visually ambiguous, disturbing and claustrophobic in their detail, the large-scale works transcribe traces of ancient mysticism and human ritual caught within these formations of rocks, natural pools and twisted vegetation, that suggest a fear of something larger, less tangible, and more supernatural. On encountering these extraordinary rocks, carved and rounded through centuries of erosion, we are often compelled to imagine strange forms and associations within the landscape. Traces of ancient mysticism and human ritual are caught within these formations and a fear of something powerful and perhaps supernatural is evoked.

From hundreds of photographs, Woods selects images which are collaged together in an act of emphasis and abstraction, a process which is continued in paint, as sections are outlined to create a layered camouflage of blobs and brush strokes. Overlying webs of paint and multiple layers of enamel are used by Woods to create luscious, reflective surfaces on aluminium, which serve to intensify a sense of the hidden and the unknown.

As an integral part of her exhibition, Clare has specially selected works by Barbara Hepworth, Paul Nash, John Piper and Graham Sutherland from the Wakefield, Tate, Arts Council and British Council collections. This display explores her personal interest in the landscape and its manifestation in the work of 20th century British artists and creates a fascinating art historical context in which to see her work.

Clare Woods says: “I’m very excited to be working with The Hepworth Wakefield, this is a unique opportunity to be able to make new work on an ambitious scale in response to not only an amazing building and fascinating landscape but also incredible collection of sculpture and painting.”
There will also be a display of new smaller single works, diptychs and triptychs in oil that will show Woods negotiating a new medium and scale.

Clare Woods (b. 1972) graduated from Goldsmiths College in 1999. She has exhibited widely in the UK, Europe and America. Her recent exhibitions include: The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity in British Art, Tate St. Ives, Cornwall; Monuments with a horizon line II, Buchmann Galerie, Berlin; Watercolours, Buchmann Box, Berlin; Cemetery Bends, Pilar Parra & Romero, Madrid and Deaf Man’s House, Chisenhale Gallery, London.

Woods has also been appointed by the Olympic Delivery Authority to create a large-scale work which will be integrated into the facade of the utilities building, south of the Olympic Park.

The exhibition is accompanied by a new catalogue with essays by writer and novelist Michael Bracewell and Chris Stephens, Curator of Modern British Art, Tate Britain.

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