Rachel Whiteread is a Turner Prize winner, and one of the most important and respected British artists working today. In 2005, she provided one of the series of impressive site-specific sculptures for the enormous Tate Modern Turbine Hall. Her preoccupation with the hidden spaces in between things has resulted in an extraordinary range of objects which form a series of eloquent tributes to the silent and overlooked.
This lecture gives an account of her career to date, showing examples of how she has used ordinary domestic objects to create enigmatic and evocative works of art. The range in scale of her works is huge: from tiny objects derived from light switches or hot-water bottles, to multi-component installations, to an entire house. In every case, the finished works reveal unexpected associations, and can be extremely moving. It was this quality which won her the prestigious commission to design a Holocaust Memorial for the city of Vienna, one of her most demanding and difficult assignments to date, but also one of the most successful.
She uses an ancient technique: casting, but an astonishing variety of materials. The talk carefully explains the fascinating processes required to achieve the effects she wants. In some cases this has involved highly experimental and pioneering methods, working with engineers and chemists to push different substances to their absolute limits.
Along with a number of other so-called Young British Artists like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, Rachel Whiteread has attracted a good deal of tabloid attention. Unlike them, however, she has always been uncomfortable with her celebrity, and never actively seeks the limelight. This talk will also have a look at her relationship with the YBAs, the press, and the public, but is mainly concerned with introducing the audience to the unexpected beauty of her works, from the unassuming and mundane, to the truly monumental.
THE ARTS SOCIETY ACCREDITED LECTURER
Ms Linda Smith
Holds two first-class degrees in Art History. A broad knowledge of art historical subjects, but specialises in British Art and twentieth century art. Experienced lecturer and guide, especially at Tate Britain and Tate Modern. Has lectured to a wide variety of audiences in different venues, including school and university students, and independent arts societies in the UK and overseas.