Brilliant sculptures by Ann Carrington examine the dark side of historical extravagance


#ann carrington #art history #flowers #metal #sculpture

August 1, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Sugarland”, spoons made of steel, silver and nickel. All images © Ann Carrington, shared with permission.

A golden age was in full swing in the Netherlands in the 17th century. The economy of the Dutch Republic, as it was then known, prospered as Antwerp and other ports became important hubs for merchant shipping, the import and export of textiles, spices and metals, and the cities grew in population. Intricately detailed oil paintings depicting food on the table or incredible floral arrangements were popular additions to the homes of wealthy merchants, but a more ominous genre of still life painting also emerged during this period of immense growth.

Known as vanitas, the paintings are filled with symbolism intended to emphasize the futility of earthly pleasures and the futility of the quest for wealth, power, and fame. When the British artist Ann Carrington visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, she described in Architecture Digest “Looking at these images of half-eaten food and wilted flowers, I realized that one of the only things that could have survived to this day was the silverware, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to try something to make of it?’” That works in her bouquets series (so far) combine hundreds of kitchen utensils into extravagant floral sculptures.

The use of discarded and found objects is central to Carrington’s practice, especially when they can be layered and draped in multiple layers. Strands of pearls and ornate brooches adorn the shape of a ship weighed down by its cargo as much as it embodies it, and a pair of caribou antlers are fashioned from forks with handles made from dozens of antlers. “Everyday objects such as knives and forks, barbed wire, needles and paint brushes have their own pre-established stories and associations that can be unraveled and analyzed as they are rearranged, distorted or reoriented to give them new meaning as a sculpture,” she says in a statement. Much like vanitas paintings reminded viewers of the less-romantic side of burgeoning wealth and expanding empires, Carrington’s material choices serve as a reminder that a dark side often hides beneath the glossy surface.

For more information about the artist’s work, visit her website and Instagram.

“Sheng Fa Wave”, steel, pearl necklaces and brooches

Detail of the “Sheng Fa Wave”

“Orb Weaver”, steel fitting with brass insects

Detail from “Orb Weaver”

“Southern Belle”, spoons made of steel, silver and nickel

“Madame Moulliere”, silver, steel and nickel-plated spoons

Detail of “Madame Moulliere”

«Oberhasli», silver-plated knives and forks

#ann carrington #art history #flowers #metal #sculpture

Are such stories and artists important to you? Become a Colossal member today and support independent art publishers for just $5 a month. You’ll connect with a community of like-minded readers passionate about contemporary art, read articles and newsletters ad-free, continue our interview series, receive discounts and early access to our limited-edition print publications, and more. Join now!

Leave a Comment