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Members Highlight - Adam Garratt

Editors note: For a while now we have had our blog open to members submissions, Adam reached out and submitted the following piece of writing that a friend of his had written about his exhibition earlier this year. WCCD want to create as many opportunities for artists to showcase and talk about their work so our blogs are a great opportunity to facilitate this! If you are a member and have an idea for a blog post drop us an email!

Embodied Labour - Adam Garratt @ studio KIND 22nd April - 13 th May 2023

By Lucinda Elliott

Garratt’s practice responds to the construction of civic architecture. He engages a brutalist aesthetic and environmental consciousness to draw attention to acts of concealment and

display that occur during urban development. Initially using the Exeter Civic Centre as both a subject and substrate, Garratt silk screened its signature window design onto discarded

cardboard boxes and tarpaulins. These items became installations that were exhibited in a variety of reconfigurations between 2016-2022. Black and white prints of the window motif were added to in 2018, with more flamboyant layers of fluorescent yellow and orange ink. These colourful often misregistered prints, help to

enhance the impression of high visibility evident during a building’s construction process. Through his use of architectural prints on found objects, Garratt’s sculptural installations perform both the augmentation and erasure of brutalist civic architecture.

Garratt playfully critiques the consumption and disposal of construction materials used in the building industry without attributing blame. Garratt addresses everyday environmental consumption and waste with an even hand. Every bag of crisps he has consumed since 2006, has been carefully folded and stored in a Kilner jar. These serve as a continual reminder of his own part in the consumption and disposal of non-recyclable materials. In his exhibition, Embodied Labour, 2023, Garratt presents a sophisticated critique and re- evaluation of the materials of production and consumption, that are used within the construction industry. 

On entering studio-KIND’s gallery space, Garratt’s exhibition Embodied Labour presents an artfully arranged, dazzling display of fluorescent yellow and orange objects. Garratt has subtly transformed these discarded objects over time. Over the course of several years Garratt has collected high visibility vests and jackets, tarpaulins, rubble bags, ratchet straps and pallets from the skips of Exeter’s building sites. By discreetly folding, rolling, printing and aligning them, then carefully arranging them on gallery plinths and shelves, he has reinvented their integrity and purpose. Jackets are folded within themselves to form sculptural heads, tarpaulins are artfully collapsed to reveal their fluorescent civic windows, ratchet straps are coiled and released to form elegant tendrils and a packing crate partially reveals its treasures: neatly folded fluorescent vests, stained with embodied labour. Using a ritualistic art-form, these spontaneous fabrigami sculptures re-ignite once discarded utility objects. Through a form of sculptural origami, Garratt has transformed discarded construction materials into beautiful post Anthropocene artifacts. Embodied Labour is both a commentary on industrial waste and a poetic reworking of its materials. Garratt’s reconfigured forms offer us a moment of redemption, a flash of optimism - that transformation can occur. Garratt’s exhibition is a beautiful and sophisticated reworking of discarded objects and a dazzling celebration of the construction materials of labour.

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