The first ever solo exhibition by artist Susie MacMurray, famed for her large-scale installations in historic buildings, begins in London this week.
MacMurray will display a variety of her new drawings, sculptures and installations at Agnew's Gallery from Wednesday, giving a unique opportunity to view a selection of her smaller-scale works under one roof for the very first time.
Formerly a classical musician, the Manchester-based artist retrained as an artist, graduating with an MA in Fine Art in 2001, and has built up an international exhibition profile, with notable past installations including filling the entire attic space of Islington Mill in Salford with 80 kg of feather down and wrapping 105 miles of gold embroidery thread throughout Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire.
She is also known for her intricate garment sculptures, and her acclaimed wedding dress 'A Mixture of Frailties' made from hundreds of rubber gloves – a kind of cautionary tale about domestic reality – will be on display at this debut solo show.
It is this distinctive artistic alchemy that is central to the exhibition, in which she reforms the banal – hairnets, balloons, wires and cling film – into the graceful, ephemeral and opulent, often bringing ambiguous and sinister undertones to otherwise pretty pieces.
This unsettling beauty is encapsulated in ‘Widow’, a giant dress made from black leather and 43 kg of dress maker’s pins currently being showcased in the Power of Making exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum to coincide with the solo show.
A further visceral quality runs through MacMurray’s work, evoking the body and bodily, and pieces such as ‘Oracle’, where rubber dairy hose appears to grow out of the wall like veins or hair, encourage a response that is at the same time seductive and repulsive.
Comparable to the late confessional art founder Louise Bourgeois, what overall underpins the works within the show is a sense of bodily trauma, which is constantly and obsessively returned to, like the licking of an open wound.
The exhibition takes place at Agnew’s Gallery, 35 Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4JD, from 9 November until 2 December
Click the image at the top of this article for a preview of some of the works featuring in the solo exhibition, as well as a couple of MacMurray's previous installations