Saturday, 19 March 2011
SHELAGH WAKELY, IN MEMORIAM
Shelagh Wakely, Curcuma Sul Travertino, 1991, turmeric on travertine marble floor, 17 x 4.5 m, at the British School of Rome
Shelagh Wakely, dustculturenobodyfloorpreciousfalseone, 1993, golden powder on wood floor, 5.50m x 3m
Shelagh Wakely, Golden Cloth, 2008, cut silk drawing golden leafed, 4.5m x 6.5m
Shelagh Wakely, rainsquare, aluminium leaf on glass patterned by falling rian, 6 x 6 meters, 1994, at South London Gallery
Shelagh Wakely, Fuente Imaginaria (Imaginary Fountain), 2000, aluminium leaf between glass, at Ex-Teresa, Mexico City,
Shelagh Wakely, Fruit Ghosts, 1999-2009, ripe fruits enlaced in fine metals and allowed to dry out
Shelagh Wakely, A Space For Dreaming, 2000, feathers & steel wire, 2.2m high x 3m x 1.40m
Shelagh Wakely, Pleached Hornbeam Arch, Bristol Temple Quay, 2008, corten steel, 3.5m high x 2m x 2.9m
Shelagh Wakely passed away in London today.
An artist of British origin, born sometime in the late 30s/early 40s, Shelagh was a pioneer of installation art in this country. Her work was delicate and ephemeral: floors covered with coloured golden dust or spices recreating vegetation patterns, glass covered with fragments of aluminium leaf patterned by falling rain, a floating tent under which to dream made of feathers, fruits covered with golden leaf and allowed to ripe and rot, gold threads covering fruits which were then dried - the wire structure becoming the ghost of the dead fruit...
Shelagh was my first landlady when I moved to London in 1997, when together with Kenneth Bostock we rented the ground floor flat of the house where she lived (and where she had her studio) in Falkland Road in Kentish Town. There I discovered her savage garden, which was at the same time her work and source of inspiration. From there I went for walks and swims to Hampstead Heath, and began my discovery of English culture.
Contrary to many British who suffer of insularity , Shelagh was curious of other cultures and countries. With her then husband urban consultant Patrick Wakely she traveled through the then called "developing world" during the 60s and 70s, going to Asia, Africa and Latin America. Shelagh also transmitted me with her passion for Brazil, a country which had become one of her sources of inspiration. It was through Shelagh that I met Brasilian artist Tatiana Grinberg, now a dear friend. It was also through her, at parties and dinners at her house, that I met Brasilian artists Tunga, Ana Holck, and Thiago Rocha Pitta, as well as art critics/curators Guy Brett, Micheal Asbury, Frances Horn and even Cuauhtemoc Medina. It was through Shelagh, in those early days in London, that I had my first contact with London's local and international art scene.
In the last ten years she had done mainly public art commissions, her talent being under-recognised by the British art world. Her works do not form part of the collection of any British museum. I hope that this omission will soon be corrected, and that history will make her justice. Sadly the importance of her work and her influence will be rediscovered now that she is absent.
I last saw her last summer, when she gave me a copy of a small catalogue of the work she had done between 1991 to 2009. Like with many other friends that have left, I wish I had spent more time with her learning from her wisdom.
Shelagh, thank you. We will miss you.