Wednesday 27 May 2015

Andrew Foster Labour of Love

I finally got to see the work of Andrew Foster up close at the Camden Image Gallery. On display were drawings, paintings, sculptural pieces and in the corner played the unnervingly quiet recording of children's voices. His work is caught between the desire to convey personal information overtly, the exacting demands of commercial illustration and a strong fine art sensibility. I love that it straddles different visual worlds outside of easy categorisation. It's a rare quality that can be hard to find in an industry that relies on ready demographics and styles that are provably populist.

His scroll is longer in person, spread across four walls. It tells the story of miscarriage and the ensuing unfulfilled dreams of fatherhood, the toys, birthdays and summers that won't happen. Fantastical imaginings of the silent milestones never to pass. Foster employs scale and vivid colour deftly, creating a panorama of cheerfully sad scenes of unspent life in which those lost live on forever.
Of the sculptural pieces I enjoyed the pleasantly grotesque pool inflatables, their shiny smooth surfaces made sinister with glued on hair. They had a tactile appeal despite their looks and joined two inevitable facets of life, a meeting of childish and adult concerns.

Andrew 'Foz' Foster gave a short artist's talk about his methods and inspirations. I particularly enjoyed his sketchbook filled with beautifully detailed drawings of the growth patterns of pubic hair. Each individual strand is rendered with reverence. It's a meditation on pubes which is not something I ever thought I'd find so moving.

I was inspired by the passion and control evident in Foster's work. It is innovative, meaningful and beautiful. It is executed with mastery. Foster gave a talk at Brighton in which he played a clip of the All Blacks performing the haka at a Rugby match. He used it as an example of passion that's channelled, honed into a precision rather than a blunt instrument and I find that idea so relevant and useful to my own work.

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