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Aisling Hedgecock

November 19, 2013

Aisling Hedgecock


Polystyrene balls and shredded corrugated cardboard might seem an unpromising starting point from which to make sculpture but they are the raw materials of Aisling Hedgecock’s unnamable, language-defying work.  From these waste products emerge organic, amorphous forms, which suggest mutations, bio geological growth, coral, or cell structure, stalactites and stalagmites. A garden of earthly delights of proliferating cells out of control, except that the whole structureless structure is exceptionally carefully controlled, from the selective coding in “colour waves” of the individual parts, to the sizes of the chunks of glued balls of polystyrene which are also graded in size, to the painted steel structures in which they are housed.


Post Royal College of Art, Aisling spent two years at the British School in Rome, as a Sainsbury Scholar followed by a stint in the hills of Andalucia where the simplicity of Moorish architecture was a significant relief from Roman Baroque churches and the Spanish landscape, a welcome change after the noise and excitement of Italy’s capital. She read Lorca’s essay on the Duende and the spirit of evocation and gradually the experiences of the southern Baroque settled into layers just below the surface of her conscious thought, digested and ordered, freeing her to explore both in her most recent work.


Recycling of materials is part of Hedgecock’s practice. The Third Stellation 2010/11, below, was constructed from ten years-worth of large monochrome drawings, cut, reshaped and remade into a spreading spiky form which crept across the surface of the floor of the Galerie Gabriel Rolt in The Netherlands in 2011.





She has used polystyrene since 2005 but the corrugated card is new as are the fabricated steel structures which she is using to contain her unruly forms.  They still grow and appear to have a life of their own, escaping the bounds of their geometric constraints.  Occasionally a skeletal hand-claw will attempt to clasp the bubbling teaming mass but it escapes between the stick-like fingers. Elsewhere dripping shards plunge into the forms or emerge from them hanging downwards like stabs of frozen water. 


Inextricably linked to the sculptures are drawings of fluid dynamics, dendrology and Rorschachian blots which she develops using her signature language of comets, drips, dots and tails. They explore the concept of memories carried in physical world.

In her studio, a huge monochrome drawing fills a complete wall and has been growing in tandem with the new sculpture for months.  Starting appropriately with the skeleton of a beaver, itself a creature totally at home in the water, she has been gradually building up the surface with marks and circles. The embryonic form is not quite contained within a grid, just as the sculptures are moving beyond the steel bounds, which are not really attempting to contain them. Drawing and sculpture seem to be having a conversation about balancing form and formlessness, accepting that neither achieves supremacy.  The structures are open allowing the amorphous forms the flexibility to flow and develop, fall apart, disintegrate and respond to circumstance, just as water reacts to changes in atmosphere, weather conditions and erosion.


In her work Hedgecock explores formlessness and fluidity and things that are impossible to pin down, She plays with her audience and their expectations, offering a structure but deliberately allowing the coloured mass to escape, not even really letting the geometric cage of steel to challenge the thing growing inside it.  She goes further, leaving gaps in the bars and distorting the rigid rules of geometry.  There is something essentially anarchic about this work in its concept, in the way it is constructed and in the artist’s choice of and use of materials.




© Fiona Robinson 2013

Article first published in Evolver, May/June 2013


Aisling Hedgecock is a selector and invited artist for the 161st Royal West of England Academy Autumn Exhibition.  Sculpture and and a large drawing will be on show at the RWA in Bristol from 24th November until 26th January 2014.


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