Hew Locke’s first solo show at Hales Gallery ‘Natives and Colonials’
continues the artist’s longstanding preoccupation with the British Royal
Family. Born in Edinburgh in 1959, Locke’s family moved to British Guyana where
he spent his formative years before returning to Britain to study sculpture.
Locke’s fascination with the British monarchy started during his school
days, printed on the front cover of every exercise book in British Guyana
was the head of the Queen and no child was allowed to deface her image.
Having completed an MA in sculpture at the Royal College and shown his large
sculpture ‘Hemmed In Two’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum, he returned to
his past fascination with all things Royal. Locke began to see the Royal
Family as a vehicle through which he confronted and evaluated his
experiences of growing up in British Guyana and his work began to develop a
sense of a resulting cultural clash.
Locke’s interest in the Royals as iconic signs of status, history and
culture can be seen in his current series of large portraits of the Queen.
Locke breaks down the image and then renders this famous face in his own
terms, creating elaborate glitzy effigies with a hint of menace, out of
modest materials such as plastic lizards, sequin waste, fake machine gun
parts and silk flowers. The resulting excessive embellishments create a
visual overload and bring to mind the flowers and fluffy animals heaped at
Kensington Garden's makeshift shrine to Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, after
A recently completed series of watercolour portraits of the Queen and
Lady Diana will also be on show. Richly patterned and tribal in feel, these
works are reminiscent of Locke’s ‘Cardboard Palace’ shown at Chisenhale
Gallery in 2002.
Locke’s work has recently been shown at Tate Britain as part of British Art
Week. His work is currently touring in a two-person show with Diana Cooper,
organised by The Drawing Room (a catalogue accompanies this exhibition) and
in the group show 'Boys Who Sew', organised by The Crafts Council. Hew has
an upcoming solo show at the Walsall New Art Gallery opening on 30th April
2005. View more of Hew Locke's work at: