Delving into unexpected realms, MacPhee re-imagines London’s Barbican as being an ‘oasis’ in the city. MacPhee's enigmaIc clay sculptures create narratives that are based on real observation and anecdotes from the Barbican’s history, that reflect the magical and diverse life within its infamous walls.
There is a phrase sometimes used to describe the Barbican: ‘a concrete jungle’, suggesting somewhere inert. But the Barbican, aside from being a renowned cultural centre, is also a city within a city - this jungle, with its towers, flowing waters, trees and exotic plants, teems with life.
The Barbican has housed an eclectic community of creatures over the years; birds of prey nesting in the towers, reptiles abandoned in the conservatory and rich, bustling underwater worlds. It is this life that interests MacPhee, finding the exotic in an unexpected urban oasis, an oasis intended by its designers and now, fifty years on, reaching fruition.
MacPhee’s art practice is centered in clay and painting. Blending the visual and tangible, she creates entertaining illusions and a sense of complexity that traverses the border between 2D and 3D. She combines various clay making processes; including sculpting, slab building and rolling ties, to create multidimensional surfaces to paint on. A range of vibrant colours is achieved, through slips and glazes, firing each piece in the kiln to over a thousand degrees Celsius.
Nature has made a shelter of the Barbican and MacPhee explores this intriguing theatre of life in her first solo exhibition.
1-23rd December 2023