Sculpture Shock- Joanna Sands

Tuesday 9 December- Thursday 11 December 2014

‘Buildings create a sense of place and I would like to think that my works become part of that.’ Joanna Sands, 2014

This December, RBS Sculpture Shock invites you to challenge your spatial expectations with HISTORIC winner Joanna Sands’ work in London’s most extensive 19th century almshouse complex – The Asylum in Peckham. Originally known as the Licensed Victuallers’ Benevolent Institution Asylum, this Grade II* listed site was formerly a sanctuary for “decayed” members of the trade and retired pub landlords. Sited in the chapel at the heart of the six acre complex, Sands’ installation, made entirely of delicately manipulated strips of ply wood, fuses a geometric aesthetic inspired by the Minimalists of the 1960s with the indepth knowledge and the painstaking precision of a true maker. Visitors become aware of their physical and historical environment through its stark contrast with the purity and succinctness of the form of Sands’ work. The work responds to the imperfections of its environment – the crumbling walls, decaying  altar, fragmented stained glass and crumbling funerary monuments – by asserting its aspirations towards the perfection of form, balance, execution, and spatial proportion. Spanning the entire length of the chapel, the work encourages physical engagement by encouraging the viewer to step over it to pass over the threshold from the entrance to the altar. The work, in all its striving for perfection, is not haughty or detached. On the contrary, it is open to interpretation; it does not prescribe a particular reading or force a narrative. Instead, it invites primarily a physical and spatial experience for the viewers as they tread carefully around the seemingly fragile structure that rises and falls beneath their cautious feet. For some it will evoke the relief of the elderly Georgian and Victorian publicans for which the Asylum meant salvation from destitution or the workhouse.

This work is the culmination of Sand’s Royal British Society of Sculptors Sculpture Shock 2014 Historic residency.  Now concluding its second year, this ground breaking award encourages surprising site specific spatial interventions in non-traditional spaces outside the confines of the white cube. The work of the winning artists appears in one of three environments: subterranean (the unseen world underneath our city), ambulatory (without physical confines in movement through space and time) and historic (an illustrious building in London).