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In The Studio: Eva Rothschild, sculptor

'The ideal way to look at art is to be permanently confused'

Karen Wright
Friday 12 July 2013 15:20 BST

Eva Rothschild has been in her studio in Broadway Market, London, for the past six years. Recently, she expanded into the adjacent studio, breaking through the walls and leaving her with a roomy, light space, and more importantly a way to isolate the "dirty work" from the cleaner end of the practice. For the first time she has been able to have an assistant solely dedicated to studio management and archiving with their own computer station, joining two others who help her with fabrication.

Born in Dublin in 1972 to an "ordinary middle-class family", art was "not seen as an ideal". There were other artists in the family – including her uncle who is a full time artist. She came to the UK via Glasgow where she lived for a while before eventually coming to London. Rothschild is one of a group of contemporary sculptors who emerged on the heels of the YBAs. For her most visible piece in London, a Tate Duveens commission (2009), she chose to make a continuous work that stretched across the space, sinuously drawing attention to detail, roof and floor of the building.

Rothschild's sculptures often appear to defy gravity: upturned tree-like forms or tall and complex works perched on fragile, spindly legs. "It is important to me that they look precarious, I want to create and show the 'physical tension' behind what they are doing."

Comforting the viewer is clearly not a priority: "The ideal way to look at art is to be permanently confused."

Rothschild is working towards two exhibitions, one in Switzerland and one in London. She points at a tower of heads; in part overtly portrait, yet partly abstracted forms highlighted with her familiar accent palette of red and green. "I'm not creative with colour – I use it to define areas and not to bring too much narrative content."

Rothschild is clear that she is a sculptor: "I am not a painter but I love seeing painting."

On the wall is a poster of a group of robust-looking boys. She gestures towards them and asks if I have watched her film that is on YouTube and was commissioned by the education department of the Whitechapel Gallery. Considering Rothschild herself has three young sons, it is perhaps not surprising that she wanted to explore the relationship of young males to works of art.

She gave licence to the boys to enter and "interact" with a specially commissioned room of her sculptures, carefully limiting the amount of instructions that she gave them, and waited to see what would happen.

Within 25 minutes, the sculptures were destroyed and redeployed as swords and costumes to act out various stories. The results were "more violent" then she was expecting. "It was a film I had wanted to make and now it is made. It's funny, liberating and joyful – and quite violent; everything I wanted it to be."

Eva Rothschild's work can be seen at the New Art Centre, Roche Court near Salisbury (

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