Tintype’s annual Project Space invites an artist to use the gallery as a studio space or workshop for the weeks running-up to an exhibition, enabling an experimental approach or helping to achieve a specific aim.
Renowned for her interest in animals, zoology and our perceptions of nature, Edwina Ashton uses invented creatures to explore awkward sensations and social relations, “I’ve always used animals to express human emotion. It is like a shorthand to a brain…. the creatures just act, do things or behave.”
Ashton’s practice includes animation, performance, drawing and installation. Her hand-drawn, animated films hinge on the mismatch between our dreams and humdrum reality – offering surreal narratives that draw on painful observations of everyday behavior and individual foibles; “I’m interested in constructing personalities from the flimsiest of means and setting all sorts of positive emotions up against ridiculous scenarios.”
Writing about one of Ashton’s films, Sally O’Reilly observed, “The ensuing dialogue groans with bad gags and twisting contradictions as the human and animal worlds writhe uncomfortably together.” This combination of slapstick and pathos is similarly a leitmotif of Ashton’s exhibitions and performances; scraps and debris suggestive of backstage at a pantomime – exuberant re-purposing – audiences brushing up against odd and beguiling situations.
The title refers to a familiar human fallibility – how we endlessly mean to do better, be better, but don’t quite manage it. What is it that stops us? Why do we sleepwalk to calamity? “I’m quite interested in things going wrong, especially in public; social embarrassment, being isolated by being focused on, being a lone visible object….I did an aptitude test for office work once and I got 1 per cent!”
Selected exhibitions, films and commissions include: Essex Road IV, Tintype, London 2017; The Winter Hours – Children’s Commission for the Whitechapel Art Gallery, 2016; Puppet Show, Eastside Projects, Birmingham, UK 2013; Midnight at the Watering Hole, WORKS|PROJECTS, Bristol, 2013; In the Belly of the Whale (Act III), Monothermosa Fray Martinez, Spain 2012; LUPA 9, LUPA, London 2012; Icons of Puppet Animation, Barbican Art Gallery, London 2011; Out with the Hammers, Phoenix Gallery, Exeter, 2011; SHOW, Jerwood Space, London, 2011; No more furniture, WORKS|PROJECTS, Bristol 2010; Shudder, Animate Projects/The Drawing Room, London 2010; Mr Panz at Lake Leman (notes on mammals and habitats), animation commission for Animation Projects 2010; Rude Britannia: British Comic Art, Tate Britain, London; Gallery Termite, Performance with Jordan Mckenzie and Aaron Williamson, Studio 1.1, London; MAM Screening, Mori Museum, Tokyo, 2008; Dr Voss talks about Moths, Camden Art Centre, London, 2005; At Last the Postman, Peer, London, 2005all images © the gallery and the artist(s)