21 March – 7 April 2012


Kate Price

Producing works labelled as relics, Kate Price leads an enquiry predominantly focused on our fascination with conserving the past and how we engage with such objects of residue. Utilising the tradition of portraiture, these notions are depicted through watercolour works on paper that present generic images of ‘face’. Containing a number of contradictory factors, the viewer must decipher and form a perspective of their own rather than to view the works based on what they are branded as.


“Something kept as a remembrance, souvenir, or memorial; a historical object relating to a particular person, place, or thing; a memento”

“An object vested with interest because of its age or historical associations; an artefact”

Defined above by the Oxford English Dictionary, a relic is, above all, an object that is loaded/implicated by a worth, be it historical, personal or otherwise. By an object being labelled as a relic it immediately positions this object with a higher value, near requesting those who view it to perceive it within a framework of the grandeur and sacred, commanding a level of respect and awe.

Producing false relics of society, this body of work leads an enquiry into how we engage with such objects of residue and why through their labelling and context we place them on such a high level.

Portraiture is skewed to critique this worth system with the traditional views that it must depict the physical and psychological aspects of a person being disregarded. Instead the works, whilst remaining visibly of ‘faces’, are presented alternatively as a trope (alike to an image or tool) or a generic, stripping the individual from each of the paintings and rather becoming more an object or thing than a rendering of a person full of their emotion and character. In this sense they are alike to portrait relics based on nothing, being questionable as to their origin. With a historical context being withdrawn, they are relics only for the maker (as a product of the maker’s past), but as the works are viewed as a portrait does this tradition of portraiture load the paintings with other histories, resulting in a somewhat baseless work becoming a relic.

This notion of the baseless is further the case with the works stemming from generic image searches, the maker having no direct connection to the subjects. These searches generated images of both human faces and representations of faces such as masks, mannequins and computer generated human faces. Through this use of a Google Internet search, societies views of a generic human face were found. By producing works both of person and object a position is placed in front of the viewer as to what the difference is between an object and a living entity, particularly when they are presented in an equivalent manner.

The works continue to confuse the viewer through their construction and placement. They are all painted loosely, becoming blurred with areas being indecipherable. Parts of the face are built up, whilst others are washed over, the faces becoming disconnected and far from being “present”.

Colours also vary, being both natural and non-realistic, with skin tones being conveyed through purples and peaches. Each separate work contains a different colour range to another, resulting in them being both individual but also causing them to become unnatural and fake through this lack of continuity. The works are further produced on paper, a material that is somewhat throwaway and secondary in comparison to that of the “prestigious” canvas.

Though whilst this is occurring the works also show an equivalence through their position within a grid formation. This results in no hierarchy being present between works, all generating a notion of being equal. The grid also conveys a heaviness within the combined works, making them dominate a clear clean environment and placing the viewer within a context which offers no distraction from the body of works.

By contradictions being prevalent the viewer is placed in an environment where they must question their own value system, rather than relying on one given to them within society. They must either deny or comply with what is presented to them, picking through the information provided and drawing from it our own judgement.

– Kate Price