<< […] Ghosts in the UK, the artist Angus Braithwaite suggested to me, usually appear in corridors or staircases. One such ghost inhabits his 2017 sculpture, The Boo, a solidly crafted wooden box which contains a model of a site drawn from the artists memory. […]
In The Boo everything is laid bare, no artifice is hidden. We see the lighting that casts the work’s dramatic shadows, we see the fan that moves the dowser’s pendulum which Braithwaite has hung above the work. Behind this, a subtitled silent film recounts the story of ‘The Boo’ – the ghost so named by the artist's mother. As the story unfolds we become uncertain how to position ourselves. The stories seem to come from real life, and though we may not believe in ghosts, we believe that the storyteller might and we don’t wish to deny their sincerity in recounting this story.
The ghost in this story dwelled in the staircase of the artist’s childhood home – a northern English house, built in the 15th century. A voice in his mother’s ear, a disembodied laugh and a dog’s unusual behaviour indicate the presence of something Other. After many years of living with the ghost – whose presence is not completely unwelcome – the family decided to move, and concerned for the wellbeing of their unbodied companion, the artist invited The Boo to habit this model of its home and come with them.
The work belongs to the artist’s mother and was brought to the show at Art Seen in Nicosia, Cyprus as her hand luggage. This exhibition marks the first time that this and Braithwaite’s other 3 Ghost works have be seen together.
Like The Boo, Under the Door (2018) and This Has Happened Once Before (2018), each host their own respective spirits. Under the Door depicts a doorway in the artist’s current home in East London, under which an eldritch interruption in light passed late one night. Like The Boo, This has happened once before also shows a staircase. A ghost story told through audio developed with musician Oliver Marchant, is drawn again from a haunting in the artist's childhood. […]
Gwisin (posted) (2018) also hosts its ghost, but it’s slightly different. Ghosts in Korea are everywhere and paradoxically for that reason, seemed harder for the artist to find. […] They interact with the living in order to get noticed and in extreme circumstances will even touch people. Drawing the gwisin into this work, where it will experience the particular attention of an artwork’s audience, may or may not be enough to allow it to pass over. The viewer can decide. […]
Braithwaite’s Dryad series punctuate the Ghost works in his exhibition, developing some key themes in his oeuvre. Throughout his practice he has explored his relationship to trees and wood. In works such as Acer pseudoplatanus (2015) he recounts a childhood spent outdoors with trees - formative experiences that have shaped his life. Dendron, a photographic series made for Art Seen in 2015, depicts life sized sections of disembodied trees with which he spent his youth. Or the pair of works Quercus robur: Father of the Woods and Fagus sylvatica: Mother of the Woods (2014), part of an ongoing series that also express a fascination with woods mythology and material.
Dryads are ancient Greek tree spirits and their existence imbues the trees they inhabit with a certain playful energy. Ash, Larch, Oak, Walnut and Olive are presented by the artist, who talks about the pieces as tombs or shrines. The titles allude to the spirit still within them. The works are enchanted, more than the sum of their parts. More than their material essence. >>
ANGUS BRAITHWAITE was born in 1984 in Cumbria, UK. Lives and works in London.
Angus Braithwaite studied Fine Art at Newcastle University and the Slade School of Art.
Recent solo exhibitions include: A Home of Ghosts and Spiris, Art Seen, Nicosia, Cyprus, Gwisin (posted), Matt's Gallery, London (2018); You are on the Stairs/The Boo, Stoa42, Athens (2017); Trees Native or Otherwise, Palagkas, London (2014).
Selected group exhibitions and performances include: Artists Billboard X Marks the bookship, Matt's Gallery, London (2016); Slip, Stadtische Gallery, Villingen-Schwenningen and Kunstverien, Buchholz/Nordheide, Germany (2015 – touring exhibition); Supernormal (performance), Braziers Park, Oxfordshire (2015); Multiplicities, Art Seen, Nicosia, Cyprus (2015); Buster Keaton and the Logic of Objects (performance), The Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick (2013); The World Turned Upside Down, Mead Gallery, Warwick (2013); The Everything and Nothing Problem, The Jerwood Space, London (2013); We Object, Aid & Abet, Cambridge (2013); The Sea Is In My Veins (performance), Whitstable Biennale, Kent (2012); Memory of a Hope, Ceri Hand Gallery, Liverpool (2012); FastForward>>ncl, Globe Gallery, Newcastle Upon Tyne (2011); Resonance104.4 TV, Frieze Art Fair, London (2010); Pause and Effect, Work Dalston, London (2009); Deviant Art Festival, Konsthallen, Trollhåttan, Sweden(2009,2008,2007);Kinedramatic, Chelsea College of Art, London (2007); StickStampFly, Gasworks, London (2007); Deviant Art Festival, Pumphuset Gallery, Trollhåttan, Sweden (2006).
TIM DIXON is a writer based in London. His research interests include fiction, animism and magic in relation to contemporary art and critical theory. He is Deputy Director at Matt's Gallery.