Sargent’s Daughters is pleased to present Hidden Territories, a solo presentation of recent work by British sculptor Debbie Lawson. Many works included in the exhibition were created for a site-specific installation in Rockefeller Center, produced in collaboration with the Art Production Fund. Those pieces, as well as new works made for this exhibition, are among the first of Lawson’s to be publicly exhibited in the United States.

Lawson’s sculptures, which range from large-scale installations to intimate objects, bring together the natural world and domestic spaces in surrealist compositions. Sculptures of wild animals seem to emerge from traditional Oriental carpets through a trompe-l’oeil effect. The rugs appear to have become animated, as lions, stags, and bears creep out of their richly patterned surfaces like animals in the wilderness, camouflaged amongst the underbrush. The continuous designs of the flat carpets both hide and enhance their lifelike animal forms, creating a slippage between two dimensions and three.

The overlap between natural motifs and built environments is a fertile source of meaning and inspiration for Lawson. The Persian-style rugs included in this exhibition are examples of an object that combines these concepts through its complex and often obfuscated history. The motifs of flora and fauna that adorn them are filtered through many centuries and cultural contexts, as they were brought back to Western Europe as exoticized souvenirs of the Silk Road and tokens of colonial trade. Represented in paintings by Vermeer and Holbein, reinterpreted by William Morris, and still used in homes across the world, these rugs became an archetype synonymous with elite interiors.

As a signifier of domestic space, objects like traditional carpets also connote whole histories of feminized labor and craft, which have consistently been considered secondary to the “fine arts” of painting and sculpture. Lawson’s practice unifies these media and asserts the importance of the stories they tell. The artist states, “Sometimes my work is inspired by the hidden life of everyday objects, and other times by what I see as the aspirational side or the rebellious side.” The lithe and powerful animals that prowl out of Lawson’s works embody this hidden history.

Debbie Lawson (b. 1966, Dundee, Scotland) lives and works in Kent. She graduated with an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, a BA (First Class Hons) in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, and BA (Hons) English Literature at the University of East Anglia. Her work is held in the UK and worldwide collections including The UK Parliamentary Collection, The Saatchi Gallery, Nottingham Castle Museum, University of the Arts London and Dundee University.

Lawson’s recent solo exhibitions include Art In Focus: Debbie Lawson, Rockefeller Center (New York, NY), commissioned by Art Production Fund; The Fergusson Prize: Magic Carpet, Fergusson Gallery (Perth, Scotland); Our House, McManus Gallery and Museum (Dundee, Scotland), supported by the Scottish Arts Council; Living Rooms, Nordisk Kunst Plattform (Brusand, Norway) supported by the British Council; and Chairway to Heaven, Economist Plaza (London, UK), commissioned by the Contemporary Art Society. Recent group exhibitions include Reimag(in)ing e Victorians, Djanogly Gallery (Nottingham, UK); Seeing With Your Feet: The Carpet in Contemporary Art, Museum Villa Rot (Burgrieden, Germany); The 197th Annual Exhibition, The Royal Scottish Academy (Edinburgh, UK); The Turner Contemporary Open, Turner Contemporary (Margate, UK); the 250th Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts (London, UK) where her work was selected by curator/artist Grayson Perry RA, The Ruskin Prize, Millennium Gallery (Sheffield, UK); and Eccentric Spaces, Riccardo Costantini Gallery (Turin, Italy).