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Steven Claydon

‘The Archipelago of Contented Peoples: Endurance Groups’

21 Woodlands Terrace, Glasgow, G3 6DF

22 April – 9 July 2017

Steven Claydon is known for sculptural work that examines the changing value of objects - aesthetic, functional and financial. This theme has become ever more pertinent against the backdrop of threats to international cultural heritage. For his exhibition this spring at The Common Guild, Claydon will present a group of new works spanning sculpture, installation and sound, in which he addresses the ideas of jeopardy and pressure - whether in their environmental, cultural or epistemological senses. Working with a range of carefully sourced and fabricated components, encompassing the arcane and the high-tech, he plays out the processes whereby objects come into being, accrue meaning, and endure and transform through environmental and cultural shifts. Within and between the works in the exhibition, Claydon poses the question of whether objects and concepts - emancipated from specific uses and contexts - possess a counterpart to the evolutionary survival strategies seen in humans and animals.

Throughout his latest works, Claydon draws a parallel between physical pressures - such as those experienced at great depth, altitude, or in a vacuum - and the subtler kinds of pressures which are imposed on objects in terms of how they are used, viewed, presented or aestheticised within any given social or institutional context. Claydon describes such contexts, at different moments of history, as producing "a kind of surface tension or a background matrix that not only modifies the way we receive things and narratives, but also modifies their essential make-up - their DNA - and that of the subjectivities surrounding them".

Adopting a practice of 'heterogeneous assemblage - bringing together divergent historical forms and processes in sculptural 'parataxis' - Claydon throws accustomed meanings and associations into freefall, inviting new possibilities. At the same time, he continues to highlight the various structures through which objects and entire systems of knowledge have been codified. The lens is foregrounded as a mechanism for isolating, magnifying and dissecting matter. It transforms from an instrument of seeing into a specimen in its own right. A number of works focus on grids, cameras and other devices for "collection and capture" which have evolved out of human societies' impulse to explore and categorise the world. Simultaneously, Claydon hints at the sovereign nature of the raw matter - or 'prey' - that such devices entrap. Objects, materials and artefacts retain their autonomy and their essential otherness.

‘The Archipelago of Contented Peoples: Endurance Groups’ is supported by the Henry Moore Foundation. With thanks to Industrial Gases company BOC, leading subsea operations and manufacturing company JFD and their National Hyperbaric Centre. In parallel with Claydon’s exhibition in Glasgow, The Common Guild is delighted to be developing a co-operation with Mount Stuart Trust (Bute) as part of its contemporary visual arts programme, details of which will be announced in April.

The exhibition will be Claydon’s first solo show in Scotland, continuing the organisation’s reputation for bringing important international artists to Scotland for the first time. Claydon’s exhibition in Glasgow follows a new commission as part of ‘The Persistence of Objects’, an exhibition curated by The Common Guild for Lismore Castle Arts, Ireland, in 2015 and a series of major exhibitions in Geneva, Bergen and London.

Steven Claydon (b. 1969 in London) lives and works in London and has worked in music and video as well as sculpture. In 2016 he was one of four artists shortlisted for the first Hepworth Prize for Sculpture.

He has exhibited widely over the last 20 years, including solo exhibitions at Bergen Kunsthall, Norway; Centre D’Art Contemporain Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland (both 2015); Firstsite, Colchester (2012); and White Columns, New York, USA (2006). He has also participated in numerous group exhibitions and biennales including Manifesta 11, Zurich and ‘Solid Liquids’, Kunsthalle Munster, Germany, (both 2016), 'The Persistence of Objects' curated by The Common Guild for Lismore Castle Arts (2015); ‘Busted’, High Line Commission, New York (2013): British Art Show 7: ‘In the Days of the Comet’, Hayward Gallery, London; Glasgow, UK; Plymouth, UK (2011); and ‘Rings of Saturn’, Tate Modern, London (2006).

Claydon has also curated several exhibitions including ‘The Noing Uv It’ for Bergen Kunsthall, Norway, together with Martin Clark (2015) and ‘Strange Events Permit Themselves the Luxury of Occurring’, Camden Arts Centre, London (2007).