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.
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.