The University of Hertfordshire Galleries is delighted to present Substratum, a solo exhibition of work by Valerie Inns; the result of a four-month artist residency at the University.

In the virtual world we inhabit, our lives are often removed from real experiences and objects. Inns’ bold new sculptural works invite us to return to the fundamental experiences of touch, real things and hands-on making.

Earlier this year, Arts Council England funded a four-month artist residency within the School of Creative Arts, during which Inns researched how other disciplines across the University of Hertfordshire used and thought about materials, from Art Therapy to Product and Industrial Design. This fascinating research fed into the development of the new sculptures, and raised questions about people’s ‘material competency’ in the 21st century.

The artist is fascinated by materials and relishes the process of transforming them into artworks. Plaster, cardboard, paper, plant seeds, hair are among her favourites. Inns creates objects that entice people to touch and explore; encouraging a physical, even visceral, response to their surfaces.

Inns introduces soft/hard, light/heavy, transparent/solid objects and wall-pieces that are designed to challenge the industrial architecture of the gallery space. Each element is meticulously handmade; crafted from a range of different materials and using various techniques.

Through Substratum, Inns hopes to provide visitors with a unique experience of interactivity with materials, surfaces and forms, which will awaken our under-used sense of touch.

Valerie Inns graduated with a BA Honours in Sculpture and Drawing from the University of Hertfordshire (2002). She has exhibited in a range of solo and group exhibitions across London and the East region including: ‘Valerie Inns’, John Jones (2009), ‘Syntonic’ Thaxted (2012) and being awarded ‘Best Sculpture Prize’, Hertfordshire Open (2012). A significant project ‘Substance’, Languard Fort (2011) saw Inns creating new work in response to an historic site, supported by a range of public engagement activity.