Kitty Shepherd

Word of Mouth

 

19 October – 18 November 2022

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This first major collection of playful ceramic vessels, plates and tablets by Kitty Shepherd further blurs the line between object and painted iconography, and it does so in all the confidence of high contrast colour.

The centrepiece of the exhibition are two windows into twentieth century culture – 48 individually created tiles that each tell their own story of our collective history and their own unique process of being created. Assembled together, their effect is to overwhelm the eye and bathe it in colour, a sense closer to the experience of a stained-glass window with its panels of story-telling, suffused with the optical experience of the sublime.

At its heart, ‘Word of Mouth’ is a simple story, that of names and colours compiling a social history of our recent times. Every lipstick chosen for illustration throughout the exhibited works is a reflection of the popularity of cosmetics over the last 75 years and in each case, a genuine example of an actual cosmetic product and its name. The research is affecting. Some of these are long discontinued products but many are still current and have retained their eccentric and idiosyncratic naming conventions. In a striking example of how memories really are the markers of time, and how we pass by them, willingly or not, included is the lipstick of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, a celebration at the time of her Jubilee year.

In a similar nod to contemporary culture ‘Needle Drop’ illustrates, through 48 hand painted tiles, a personal selection by the artist of popular song titles from the last 60 years. A wall of sound intended to be viewed together.

The subject matter of the two installations is simple yet compelling, pointing to the vacuity and triviality of western society yet at the same time acknowledging the transitory importance beyond which point only aesthetic pleasure survives. Like looking at a stained-glass window, we may not read the iconography as well as those in the past, but the experience can still move.