“3 Female British Artists Who Bend Boundaries”
By Bri Lamontagne
Es Devlin is a London-based visual artist who has been the subject of a Netflix documentary, Abstract: The Art of Design, has been the artistic director of the 2020 London Biennale (a large show or art expo held every other year), gave a Ted Talk in 2019, has won several awards and fellowships for her multi-genre work in art, and is designing the UK pavilion at EXPO 2021 in Dubai. The type of art she creates include a mixture of performance, music, and visual art (sculpture, playing with light and colors and fashion and paper and video). According to her website biography, this is formally called “LARGE-SCALE PERFORMATIVE SCULPTURES AND ENVIRONMENTS THAT FUSE MUSIC, LANGUAGE AND LIGHT”. Devlin’s work is extremely imaginative, though probably more impressive in person than over video. Several of her pieces are available for viewing by video on her website. Sometimes the pieces have an easy-to-distinguish meaning, based on their presentation and the event related to the performance. Others of her projects seems open to interpretation. Her work mixing poetry and technology with performance art is fascinating. The original version of this project involved poetry formed by AI and “roared” by a lion sculpture in downtown London – which would certainly have been an experience worth having. Since most of her works are performance-related, they tend to be temporary installations.
Rachel Whiteread has led a life full of art, politics, and playing with the physical world to make sense of how perception works and how humans interact with their surroundings, including experiences involving difficult creation projects and their eventual destruction. She has won several awards and prizes, has works that still exist throughout the world, and is considered one of the Young British Artists of the ’90s. The type of art she works with tend to be sculptural casts and molds of empty spaces using liquid concrete and resin. They are usually large-scale pieces that become landmarks, or which may have become so if they were not destroyed due to political agendas. Although I haven’t seen any of her works in person (or found many photographs), I’ve read several first-person accounts of people who found her works awe-inspiring and emotionally provoking. The time and energy she has poured into her work is especially impressive considering that her works have not always stood the test of time, due to no fault of her own or their making. In fact, many people who appreciated her works that were torn down now reminisce decades later and regret the loss. Obviously her work has had a major positive impact on the people who have experienced it.
Rachel Banner focuses her art on storytelling and history through her own experiences of places she’s traveled, her fantastical and polygon-focused imagination, and iconography from people, places, and times that particularly strike her fancy (much of which seems to involve rabbits). The type(s) of art she creates include metal sculpture and graphic design. She also mixes these with audio/visual technology to express historic stories in modern ways. I think that using her work to promote cultural history is imaginative and impressive – she’s included a lot of the historical research for each location where one of these “Historical Hop” events has taken place on her website. Banner’s graphic design tends to feature nature themes in a simple yet elegant or cutesy manner, which is sweet. Her metal work sculptures that are based off of the rabbit form mixed with a variety of other things (polygons, “the Hydra” creature of mythical lore which had three heads or more, etc) are intriguing, especially in the juxtaposition of concepts: metal is considered hard or strong even in symbolism and rabbits are generally symbols of softness and timidity, yet these sculptures are in the form of rabbits and made with metals.