Daphne Wright: Sires - Exhibitions

Soho Square

Daphne Wright: Sires

14 November 2003 – 10 January 2004

Daphne Wright

In this exhibition of new work, Daphne Wright examines the complexities and contradictions that exist in the world of ‘industrial’ animal husbandry. Using sculpture, video and photography, Wright composes images of cattle that are at once sensitive and brutal.

A series of intaglio prints depict the heads and eyes of the domestic bulls, which are kept on farms for reproduction purposes. Wright is fascinated by the status of these creatures; usually only one such bull is kept and it is favoured above all other cattle, washed powdered and displayed at country shows it is often given a bizarre ‘pet’ name. The portraits of the bulls capture the underlying menace of these pampered creatures, which are fundamentally unpredictable and uncontrollable.

Wright has cast the massive head and neck of a slaughtered bull in plaster. The object lies on the gallery floor and is suggestive of an oversized ornament. This piece amply conveys the sheer size and muscular power of the animal, it is awe-inspiring, disturbing and subtly invested with forms of ancient mythical symbolism.

A short video shows only the legs and hooves of a herd of cattle in the milking parlour. Mired in wet mud, they are reminiscent of troops trudging through hostile territory. The image vividly portrays something of the seemingly coarse and mechanical world of modern farming.

The final works in the exhibition are another two plaster casts, this time of a stillborn calves. These small sculptures have a certain poignancy and are, in part, a comment on our often heavily romanticised understanding of farming life. Like the other works in the exhibition they encompasses some of the harsh and necessarily less emotional daily reality of farming life.

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