“A slab” – “The wild heart of Ireland”

Jamie Crewe (1987 - )

ground coffee, elderflowers, statice flowers, leaves, acrylic wool, fired clay


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Jamie Crewe, “A slab” – “The wild heart of Ireland” © Jamie Crewe. Image: Patrick Dandy

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  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Government Art Collection

    This is one of five fired clay slabs from the central panel of Jamie Crewe’s Slabs by Radclyffe Hall, created for the sister solo exhibitions Love & Solidarity (Grand Union, Birmingham, 2020) and Solidarity & Love (Humber Street Gallery, Hull, 2020), that were nominated for a 2020 Turner Bursary. The work takes inspiration from Radclyffe Hall’s 1928 novel The Well of Loneliness, and its lasting impressions on generations of LGBTQIA+ people.

    The work was fabricated over the course of two days in Birmingham’s Modern Clay ceramics studio with a concomitant group of artists and writers. Depicted in Crewe’s video “Morton” – “Beedles” – “An abyss” (2020), the group re-enacted the 1800s traditional craft of well dressing. The practice consists of decorative pallets of clay, into which designs are formed with fresh flowers, seeds, wool, and other natural materials; these are usually erected around the wells of Derbyshire villages each summer and displayed for a couple of weeks until dried and deteriorated.

    In their version, Jamie Crewe has cut the design into sections and fired them in a kiln. As stated by the artist: ‘...together, and apart, these slabs test the possibility of living with a wound. In all of them a chemical change had taken place, and had been an ordeal. Beautiful things were burnt up, and much was lost – but the objects have taken forms in which they might survive, changed.’

    The full set of slabs will be exhibited for the first time as part of the Hayward Gallery Touring exhibition British Art Show 9 (2021-22).

  • About the artist
    Living and working in Glasgow, Jamie Crewe’s body of work comprises videos, sculptures, drawing and writing to explore ideas of identity, power, desire, community and history. Since graduating in Contemporary Fine Art from the Sheffield Hallam University (BA, 2009) and Glasgow School of Art (MA, 2015), Crewe has had solo exhibitions at Transmission, Glasgow (2016); Gasworks, London (2017); Tramway, Glasgow (2018); Grand Union, Birmingham; and Humber Street, Hull (2020). Selected group exhibitions are ‘KW Production Series’ (with Beatrice Gibson), Julia Stoschek Collection, Belin (2018); ‘I, I, I, I, I, I, I, Kathy Acker’, ICA, London (2019); and ‘STILL I RISE: FEMINISMS, GENDER, RESISTANCE, ACT 2’, The De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea and ‘ACT 3’, at Arnolfini, Bristol (2019). Crewe was the winner of the Margaret Tait Award 2019/20, a 2020 Turner Bursary, and their work has been selected for the Hayward Gallery Touring exhibition British Art Show 9 (2021-22).
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  • Details
    “A slab” – “The wild heart of Ireland”
    Series Title
    Panel 2 from Slabs by Radclyffe Hall
    ground coffee, elderflowers, statice flowers, leaves, acrylic wool, fired clay
    Purchased from the artist March 2021, through the Art XUK project 2020-21
    The artist; from whom purchased by UK Government Art Collection, 17 March 2021
    GAC number