Selected works by Jonathan Baldock

Jonathan Baldock
Andromeda

2007

Salt-dough, pins,ribbon, dolls eyes, polystyrene, colouring, paint, synthetic hair

29 x 42 x 26 cm plinth 121 x 42 x 26
How Jonathan Baldock goes about making his sculptures is a little unorthodox to say the least. Looking for a cheap substitute for clay that didn’t require the cumbersome processes of a kiln, Baldock returned to his roots and adopted a technique he learned, not in the hallowed halls of the Royal College, but in Sunday school. Each of his sculptures, which could easily be mistaken for fine porcelain or ceramic, are in fact made from a play-dough mixture of flour, salt, and water. Baldock begins each piece by sculpting a head, and then lets it dry in front of his radiator (they won’t fit in his oven!) before adding the details in successive layers; their rich matt hues that would be the envy of Wedgwood are derived from food colouring which he mixes into the dough at the kneading stage.
Jonathan Baldock
Adriana

2007

Salt-dough, pins,ribbon, dolls eyes, polystyrene, colouring, paint, synthetic hair

22 x 34 x 34cm plinth: 134 x 24 x 24 cm

Baldock uses this elaborately rudimentary technique to explore a contemporary kind of ‘primitivism’. Looking at different cultures from all over the world, his figures are adorned with all manner of exotica - florets and bijoux, armour plates and masks - and speak of tribal rituals and tortures all the while proclaiming distinct Englishness. The overall effect is one of fiercely unnerving nobility: a quasi Jane Austen meets Wicker Man. Titled after a nagging lovelorn wife whose husband has strayed in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, Baldock’s Adriana, wearing her heart on her brow and with a tear spilling from her eye, becomes something of a coquettish monstrosity. Bejewelled with savage markings made regally chintz, she’s made up to the nines with pleasing ‘win-back’ cosmetics, all begging dolly eyes, cuckold clown nose, and rouged gaping mouth firmly tied shut.

Jonathan Baldock
Androgny (Bearded)

2007

Salt-dough, pins,ribbon, dolls eyes, polystyrene, colouring, paint, synthetic hair

20 x 35 x 28 cm plinth 106 x 18 x 18 cm
Baldock’s busts are inspired by the rigid imperial poses of classical Greek and Roman sculptures. Baldock uses this stylised and commanding format as a foundation on which to layer a myriad of cross-cultural and gendered references. His portraits are always modelled on white male features – an archetypal generic – that when ornamented become flirtatiously androgynous. For Baldock this desexualisation becomes a matter of fetish’s fashion. In his process of working, dough becomes both body and its mortification: sticky, wet, heavy, and suffocating. It’s beaten and pummelled in a ritual of embodiment, purification, and preservation. As Baldock explains, “It’s not only beauty, it’s about playing with perceptions of materiality.”
Jonathan Baldock
Betty Crocker (I Miss You)

2007

Salt-dough, pins,ribbon, dolls eyes, polystyrene, colouring, paint, synthetic hair

22 x 34 x34cm plinth 130 x 24 x 24 cm
Baldock doesn’t begin each work with a preconceived idea about its final form; his sculptures are developed through their material manipulation, with the initial workings of the dough suggesting a possible character for embellishment. Betty Crocker (I Miss You) is an homage to the world’s favourite baker. Far from the many glamorous housewife faces the brand has presented over the years, Baldock’s rendition of the fabled Mrs. Crocker is by far more hilariously apt: an aging and cracking bulwark of a woman, with make-up literally caked on with icing-piped decoration, she’s the manifestation of one of her own easy-mix recipes that never quite look as good in real life as they do on the box.
Jonathan Baldock
Lost For Words

2007

Salt dough, synthetic hair, dolls eyes and mixed media

32 x 21 x 25 cm plinth 93 x 19.5 x 19.5 cm

In their craftsmanship, Baldock’s portraits are simply exquisite. Lost For Words resolves as a true English rose, with aristocrat nose and virginal complexion, literally made from powder. The figure is crowned with actual hair extensions, and the eyes are glass replicas taken from a life-sized doll. Baldock often combines ‘real’ elements with his floury base to give his characters a sense of uncanny veritas. Drawing from the fanciful frights of Victorian gothic romance novels, it’s as if a fair maiden is mummified or bewitched, muzzled and frozen for all eternity. Baldock places the sculpture on a chipboard plinth; this both accentuates his humble making processes and gives the suggestion of sawdust or straw, setting his haunting characters in the realm of rural folklore and its anxious idyll of well-kept secrets.


Articles

FIRST AND LAST AND ALWAYS PREVIEWED AT AXIS BALLYMUN ON 7 NOVEMBER 2006. EXHIBITION OPEN 8 NOVEMBER TO 3 DECEMBER 2006


First and Last and Always featured 7 artists who each visited Ballymun and most of whom created a new piece of work in response to this visit. The exhibition brought together a diverse mix of artists who are interested in the nature of art practice and who either seek to question the way in which artwork is made or who engage with a variety of social and contemporary issues. For some artists, this is achieved through humor or irony, while for others it is conceptual and austere. The show gave a sense of the diversity of approaches employed by contemporary artists responding to everyday life, and presents alternative models of socially engaged practice. As such the show acted as a precursor to the forthcoming Breaking Ground Art in the Life World conference in Spring 2008, which will explore issues of autonomy in art.

Jonathan Baldock makes theatrical and darkly humorous fantastical objects and paintings, which are often influenced by traditions of folklore and ritual. At times sinister and unattractive, and at others socially scathing, Baldock�s paintings look at the nature of beauty, celebrity and social perceptions of what art should be. For First and Last and Always, a salon hang of new work underpinned the exhibition in Axis.

Amanda Coogan showed Adoration for the first time in Ireland. With strong references to the 14th century Wilton Diptych, currently exhibited in the National Gallery, London, the scene is re-enacted through live performance and accompanied by the benedictus from Mozart's Requiem. Three soloists and a choir join Coogan in worship of a Gucci handbag, exploring consumerism through mime and movement. Set within the beautiful Chapel at Lichfield Cathedral, Adoration is a timely reminder of a society obsessed with celebrity wealth and social status.

Michelle Deignan's video works consider her position as an artist in relation to institutions. Often using herself as subject, Deignan's self-reflexive works often question the roles video and photography play in the contextualisation and interpretation of world events. In Red Cheeks , an actor adopts the guise of a TV presenter, and makes a series of speeches to camera at three different locations around London city: outside RTE’s offices at Millbank, The London Irish Women's Centre, and Irish Contemporary Art in Kensington. This narrative calls into question the effectiveness of an artist as a social commentator.

Source: breakingground.ie