Southard Reid is pleased to present Walking with a Ghost, a new solo exhibition by Harry Lawson.
In the window of the upstairs gallery is a Silicon test disk, - an object printed as a test for producing microchips for computers – functionless – it is a blueprint for a machine learning its craft. In many ways, this epitomises Lawson’s work – a maker learning his craft through a material consumption of the world – trying to find meaning through the handling of objects and ideas. What theorist Karen Barad describes as “a congealing of agency” where matter is not a fixed essence but rather “a substance in its intra-active becoming”.
In the downstairs gallery Ripping Spiral Jetty (2017) acts as a counterpart to Lawson’s Pouring the Asphalt Rundown (2017) which was shown at his exhibition Cave at Kingsgate Project Space earlier this year. In both works and Stretching the Asphalt Rundown (2015), which sits on the wall opposite, Lawson takes Robert Smithson’s iconic works Spiral Jetty (1970) and Asphalt Rundown (1969) and treats it as a material. The images are ripped from the internet, cropped, distorted, corroded: pure digital content is extracted and liberated from their original meaning into an experiential aesthetical reference to their past life.
Upstairs, Lawson sets a more domestic environment showcasing his handmade furniture – a grandfather clock, table, chairs, sofa, rock stand and lamps. On the surface, they seem like a disjunction in form from those downstairs however, underlying the work is his continued fascination of historical iconography within art and design history. They are a way of processing information, a way to understand objects and space and their meaning within the world, from the proportions and design features of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s buildings and clocks to a homage of Gerrit Rietveld’s iconic Red Blue chair designed in 1918 (where a cutting list and construction plans of the chair were found online) to a remembered sighting of a plant stand in the window of Kettles Yard, Lawson is manipulating and playing with these histories. The presence of material is heavily felt throughout the space from the oak used in the furniture with its weight and preciousness against the imitation rock spray and glittered surfaces that conceal it. The objects' value doesn’t lie in their authenticity but rather Lawson’s treatment and handling of material. Once again Lawson questions at what point is meaning lost - does it disappear into nothing or perpetually gain more layers the more concealed the original object gets?
Harry Lawson (b.1985, Hereford, UK) lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Cave, Kingsgate Workshops, London, (2017); Remote Future, Remote Past, Apartment Projects, London (2014). Group shows include Uncommon Chemistry, Observer Building, Hastings (2016) and Absolute Dating, One Thoresby Street, Nottingham (2015). He graduated with an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London (2013).