artist / participant
Katy's Convoy was critically acclaimed in Nina Saunders' native Denmark on its inaugural installation at the Horsens Kunstmuseum in January 2009. The New Art Centre is delighted to be the first UK venue of this award winning show.
Saunders' convoy of animals is both comic and unsettling. The taxidermied animals that populate this procession have been made yet stranger by Saunders who has seamlessly blended each creature to an item of benign household furniture. The animals are of the type that populate children's literature and folk tales, part of our collective imagination, harmless and yet casually hunted. Each item of furniture has been reupholstered in white but its structure has been undermined so that each appears disproportionate, uncomfortable but curiously mobile.
At its heart the convoy is a narrative of civilian displacement and struggle. Saunders asks, 'Do we really know how frightful it is to flee? I have worked with many refugees, including a Slovene who had no visa [...] His mother died but he couldn't go home for her funeral. His desperation and sorrow were really shocking. I think you have to express some of the things you experience including what is happening in the greater world.'
Leading the convoy is Katy, a hare stuffed in 1912, whose body is the remains of a sturdy armchair heavily and confidently rooted to the ground. Saunders credits the hare with intelligence and resolve and a belief that she 'will win through'. But not every character who forms the convoy has such unbridled determination and the rest of Katy's companions compete against varying obstacles that are both physical and emotional.
Though this piece is more consciously politicised than preceding works, there remains Saunders' gentle ability to needle from objects a domestic narrative that we find both familiar and uncanny. In Katy's Convoy the memory of home is paramount; it is the place from which journeys begin.
Born in Odense, Denmark in 1958, Nina Saunders trained at Central St Martin's, London. Recent solo exhibitions include Autumn Flowers at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (2007-09) and Sincerely Yours, Galleri Specta, Copenhagen, Denmark (2007). She is represented in public and private collections around the world, including the Arts Council Collection, London; the Modern Museum, Stockholm, Sweden; Esbjerg Kunstmuseum, Denmark and the Saatchi Collection, London. This year Nina Saunders represented Denmark in the Danish and Nordic Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale. She lives and works in London.
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