Emma Woffenden explores dark narratives in her newest body of sculpture for Marsden Woo Gallery.
Working in cast glass, bronze, plaster and clay, Woffenden creates ambiguous sculptures that refer to the human body. She embraces the contradiction of violence and beauty, translating ‘terrible images into beautiful forms’, and recognises a duality that we often choose to ignore. The psychology of violence, gender and death are infused into her work, which she investigates through the materiality of her various chosen media.
A dynamic pair of bronze figures threaten to explode with a barely restrained violence, carrying the tensions of raw and primal human emotion, in which the ‘male’ figure is the more vulnerable, holding arms up in surrender to the sinister, striding ‘female’, who appears to hold a club in her hand. A pair of Jesmonite legs, topped with the blown form often seen in Woffenden’s work, kneel in pools of white, enamel-like glass, in a static and still pose that is none the less wrought with tightness and apprehension. A standing figure, loosely modelled in clay, swings its bell-like hands, and a dismembered shark-like form bears the horrific absence of holes where fins should be.
In this exhibition Woffenden is inspired by shocking, disturbing or unusual stories that have resonated and remain within her memory. She captures an uncertainty in her work, provoking a great deal of thought, and leaving it’s meaning open to analysis. Woffenden welcomes this difference in opinion, and in dealing with the darker side of human nature her work continues to cause controversy.
Emma Woffenden (b. 1962) studied at West Surrey College of Art & Design (1981-1984) and the Royal College of Art (1991-1993). She employs a full range of complex glass techniques to make works that explore the power of myth and archetypes, and the human condition. Widely recognised as one of Britain's leading glass artists, her work is included in a number of international public collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, Wellcome Trust and the Crafts Council, London; Ernsting Glass Museum, Germany; Broadfield House Glass Museum, West Midlands. Her award winning designs for Transglass can be found in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She lives and works in London and France.