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Alex Hartley - Façade

Mixed media, 2019. Meadow Arts commission. Photo Stefan Handy.

Alex Hartley - Façade (Detail)

Meadow Arts commission 2019

Alex Hartley - Façade

Mixed media, 2019. Meadow Arts commission. Photo Stefan Handy.

Alex Hartley - Blank

Mixed media, 2019. Meadow Arts commission. Photo Stefan Handy.

Alex Hartley - Plinth

Mixed media, 2019. Meadow Arts commission. Photo Stefan Handy.

Façade, Blank, Plinth

Mixed media, 2019

Meadow Arts commission

Alex Hartley’s imposing new commissions appear deliberately out of step with the harmonious texture of Witley Court. Evidently from the wrong era, they are made of materials that suggest a different, somehow alien time. Façade and Blank behave like remnants, fragments of the ‘skin’, of larger buildings. But are these ruins from the past or from a possible future?

They seem unconnected to the Court, yet they are made of materials that are all present in the building. Concrete, steel, lead, corrugated iron, scaffolding and industrial bricks can all be seen in the various restorations. Hartley was indeed fascinated by how different time frames could be read as layers in the fabric of the building. Both works are supported by brutalist shores that hold them as facades in their ‘original’ positions.

The third work, Plinth, memorialises and celebrates mighty weeds that have broken through the aged and decaying concrete. Amongst other plants, it is a monument to the ubiquitous Buddleia, a plant that has colonised millions of urban wastelands and bomb sites the world over.

All three works allude to other possible pasts - or futures - overlaid onto the Witley Court site.

Alex Hartley

Alex Hartley is an artist based in the UK, whose work destabilises ideas of both iconic architecture and nature by exploring our understanding of utopian ideologies. Hartley has taken his work into the public realm, making ambitious works of land-art and employing his practice to test our notions of utopia, the individual, and the critical relationship we have with the environment that questions how we occupy the world's wild places.

Hartley’s artistic practice is wide-ranging, comprising wall-based sculptural photographic compositions, filmmaking, climbing, artist publications, room-sized architectural installations, participatory site-specific works, and it often involves him travelling to remote places (including an uninhabited island in the High Arctic) to instigate new work. For Meadow Arts exhibition, In Ruins at Witley Court (English Heritage), Hartley’s newly commissioned sculptures appear to be ruined buildings, complete with plants and moss growing upon their ‘dilapidated’ surfaces.

Previously, the artist has undertaken a residency with the National Trust for Scotland (2013) and has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally at venues including the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2017); Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (2017); Contemporary Arts Centre, Ohio, US (2014); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2013); Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester (2012) and the Fundación Canal, Madrid (2008).

Hartley is represented by the Victoria Miro Gallery, UK

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