This exhibition brings together for the first time two of most accomplished women sculptors from the North West; Halima Cassell and Emma Rodgers. Both artists have achieved national and international recognition through their work, which although completely different, both capture a dynamic sense of movement through their work. There are also many parallels in terms of their highly successful career paths.
Both women’s work feature in major public collections and they have undertaken public and private commissions. Emma still works from her studio in the North West whilst Halima has recently moved out of the region in order to achieve a studio that accommodates her own diverse practice as well as facilitating space for her to share her knowledge.
‘Celebrating Craft’ is a series of curated displays highlighting the diverse, emerging and established makers working in studios across the North West. 2021 is the Crafts Council’s 50th anniversary year. Museums, galleries and festivals across the North West, including the Bluecoat Display Centre, will celebrate the Year of Craft with events and displays throughout this year.
Combining strong geometric elements with recurrent patterns and architectural principles, Halima’s work utilises definite lines and dramatic angles in an attempt to manifest the universal language of number and create an unsettling sense of movement.
To achieve these effects she uses relatively thick surfaces or solid forms to carve to the desired depth. Halima concentrates on simple forms as the basis of her work in order to maximise the impact of the complex surface patterns in combination with heavily contrasting contours.
This approach provides her with the tools to create the compelling drama and playful dynamism that characterises her work.
Her main preoccupation and sculptural impulse is to penetrate beneath the skin of the form to reveal the structure within – the crystalline seed of the stone, or the skeleton-like armature she perceives within the clay. She does not carve exteriors but reveals interiors – the folded abstract inner landscapes of her singular and highly imaginative vision. – Andrew Lambirth, Art Critic – Spectator Magazine
Confrontation, energy, curiosity, essence of a moment and interaction are the main elements that initially draw me to a new subject and are indicative of the very nature of the animals I have depicted. It is not purely an interest in animals, but the challenges of capturing the inherent nature of the subject, particularly where the movement, flexibility and power of the animal is concerned.
Rodgers arts gets straight to the core of her subject. She really inhabits the spirit of her creatures, just as they inhabit hers. It is about the flesh and bone beneath the skin, pulsing visceral forms that express the physicality and raw energy of the animal world nature at its most untamed. – David Whiting, Art Critic