The act of cutting, incision, and excision, with scalpel, with ripping, with tape, with pen, runs through this source material and is further taken up by the artist as a strategy for deconstructing and renewing the plastic material itself and therein the biographical and gendered structures embedded within it. This ongoing metabolizing of the inherited matter by Entwistle continues to inform the emergence and articulation of her own visual and biographical schema.
“In the act of digesting my grandfather’s vestiges, I started to sift out a base material layer, trying to identify a territory of biographical neutrality in which I could breathe. I began to strip the raw material away from its contextual pinnings, focusing on this tangible resource rather than the thinner narrative gestures inscribed on top. Alongside this came the extraction of a chromatic spectrum of corrosive pinks, greens, cyans, sepias, magentas, and browns.”
From this processing developed a series of coarsely hewn and scored ceramic slabs that were formed through archival envelopes rolled into the wet clay (and then discarded), their indentations and surface ridges impressed as contours into the ceramic reliefs. During firing, some large sheets cracked apart but remain included in the installation, a structural opportunity identified by the artist as present at large in the archive and its biography(ies); fragmented, disordered, inarticulate.
A series of projected archival color slides have also been materially modified through cutting away celluloid or masking with streaks of acrylic ink. Obscuring the figurative specifics of context and subject, the artist turns attention to the interstitial space of the image, to dwell in the abstracted planes of gradation, tone, and texture.
These modified 35mm slides are projected onto large-scale printed textiles that hold graphic color-scapes whose compositions arise from used, archival A3 Letraset transfer sheets (printed textures applied to architectural drawings). Their cut-up configurations, notations of a somatic process in motion, result in an accidental formal lyricism. These remnants are the parts that remain outside of, and peripheral to, the main story of the architectural propositions of the origin archive — cut into and cut away, unintentional. Yet here, the artist more clearly perceives the spatial, the volume of the body, the volume of the interior, as opposed to a complete rendition of the figure or the façade.
In talking of figuration, Entwistle writes, “The archive holds multiple women whose naked limbs are ever-present in photographs, seated and displayed, formal foils to enhance design prototypes. I hold these Muses in mind not as set or pictorial device but as felt presence through my own form and gesture pressed into the making. In handling the wet clay my fingers indent too. The hand expresses the force of the body, imprinted in the ceramic, in the gestural expression of the glaze, and the cutting marks on the slides. Embedded. And with that the figure arises in the work, it becomes, you leave the hand in the work. It doesn’t set apart from, the hand then comes to contain the full gesture of the body(ies), the fragment becomes the whole.”
*In 2011, the artist inherited the personal effects of her late grandfather and fellow architect, Clive Entwistle (1916, London – 1976, New York), whom she never met. Amassed in the collection, which had been retained in a Manhattan storage facility, are ambitious yet unrealized architectural proposals, furniture designs, personal photographs, and letters. The material reveals a totalizing vision channeled both through his design work as a proponent of European modernism and his charged relationship with women.