Thomas Houseago

2 April – 21 July 2012, Hauser & Wirth Outdoor Sculpture

Hauser & Wirth is delighted to present Thomas Houseago’s ‘Large Owl (For B)’ as part of the gallery’s outdoor sculpture programme at Southwood Garden, St. James’s Church, London. This presentation acts as a preview to Houseago’s debut exhibition with the gallery, opening at Hauser & Wirth’s Savile Row space in September 2012. Rarely seen in the daylight, the owl has long been associated with the supernatural activities of the night and, for many cultures, is a symbol of mystery, wisdom and vigilance. Houseago’s ‘Large Owl (For B)’ will watch over the unique setting of Southwood Garden, a tranquil enclosure nestled in between London’s busiest streets, until mid-July.

‘Large Owl (For B)’, dedicated to the artist’s daughter, is a monumental sculpture and one of Houseago’s largest variants of the subject. Originally constructed from traditional materials such as plaster, hemp and iron rebar, ‘Large Owl (For B)’ has been cast in bronze and is situated upon a redwood plinth. Houseago has translated the delicate feathers of the owl into weighty cylinders, coarsely daubed onto the surface to build up the sculpture into one cohesive form. Like many of Houseago’s figures, instead of eyes, the owl looks out on the garden through gaping holes, contrasting its seemingly dense physicality with a hollow gaze.

In a conversation with Rachel Rosenfeld-Lafo, Houseago stated that he needed to be very much involved in the activity of making: ‘I am fascinated by the actions that an artist takes to make something, and I want them to be an important part of how you see and read the piece’. The work’s rough, yet seductive, surface does exactly this. It retains the numerous trowel strokes that shaped and defined the figure and each of the artist’s handprints as he patted down the form have been left indelibly evident. As Houseago explained, this acknowledgement of the artistic process makes ‘the creative act accessible, showing anybody can make art if they have the will and desire. For me, that is the magic in sculpture’.