ART BLOG 14/11/2018

This was Hew Locke’s third lecture at Falmouth School of Art. It was also his last as his post as Visiting Professor comes to an end. This was the second I had sat through in a year and was definitely the better. Or maybe I just knew more about his work this time around.

Hew was at Falmouth in 1988, the same time as me although I was studying Graphic Information Design rather than Fine Art. There was always a bit of a divide, so I was quite amused to find out that his professorship was in association with the Illustration course. Not usually the realm of conceptual Fine Art students.

Locke is best known for adorning statues, in situ and on photographs with symbolistic dressings. His obsession with all thing colonial comes from his upbringing in Guyana and influences much of his work and unsurprisingly has heavy political overtones.

It seems he has many obsessions, which he freely admits. Britishness in a global context and the royal family are among them. His more recent elaborate sculptural collages are a mass of plastic, often in the forms of toys or souvenirs and ooze with themes of power and culture.

Locke uses historical references to make art in which uses these influences are reused to make a statement about what is happening in the world today. A prime example was small replicas of boats for his installation at St Mary & St Eanswythe church, Those in Peril on the Sea. Maritime imagery and symbolism have been a constant in his work, along with reflections on his upbringing in Guyana and voyage to England. They also reflected a theme which is timeless and is happening now in the Mediterranean as well as those trying to get from Haiti to the US. Immigration has always been a critical topic whether it is now or in the past.

Locke was born in Edinburgh and spent his formative years in Georgetown, Guyana, before returning to the UK to study. He received his BA(Hons) Fine Art in 1988 from Falmouth, then an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London in 1994. He has work in collections including Tate, the British Museum, the V&A, Brooklyn Museum and the Perez Art Museum Miami. He has had solo shows in public galleries in the UK and the USA and has taken part in Biennials in nearly every corner of the globe.