Open Frequency 2009: David Kefford selected by Sanna Moore

Open Frequency 2009: David Kefford selected by Sanna Moore David Kefford, Membrane installation, 2008. Mixed media

Sanna Moore profiles the work of David Kefford

David Kefford’s work is always intriguing. His work reflects life, living, being, the struggle to survive and exist in an ever-changing world, or perhaps the struggle and challenge of the artist trying to survive by plying their trade without compromise. Kefford’s work over the past eight years has passed through a number of manifestations but has always remained true to the form and materials he uses, with the thread of surrealism running subtly through his practice.

Kefford collects, assembles and transforms objects which have been discarded, recycling them into new sculptural forms. He gives character to inanimate objects which redefines their meaning. In his early work (2000-3) he covered his acquisitions in tape, their form remaining recognisable but transformed through texture and colour as pieces of stand alone sculpture, for example ‘Red Head’ (2001). He extended this process by creating larger life-size pieces which were composites of multiple objects, creating alien beings with an air of familiarity, their base objects covered and unrecognisable such as ‘The Giver and the Receiver’ (2004). In the gallery context these pieces became discrete sculptures interacting with each other and suggesting a family of mutant creatures which inhabited the exhibition space as if they had landed from outer space, such as ‘Withstand’ (2004).

In 2005 Kefford began to move away from stand-alone pieces by directly engaging with the spaces he was exhibiting in and producing overarching installations. For example, The Balance of Being, Margaret Harvey Gallery, St Albans and Born Again, Wysing Arts Centre (both 2005). His interventions became smaller and more intimate, connected together within the space by lines of thread. Like three-dimensional drawings these installations had a much lighter feel in terms of form and mood. The visitor positioned within the installation became part of it unintentionally, interacting with it as they walked through the space. I remember negotiating my way through ‘Born Again’ with bemused caution, like entering a surreal fantasy world and taking care not to step on some of the subtle floor pieces which were dotted around the space.

His recent practice has shifted again but still remains true to the Kefford signature of recycling found objects by making composites and adding simple materials such as tape and string. This latest work harks back to former years in terms of the base objects being recognisable. This time they are largely evident in their original guise, yet combined with other pieces they look almost as if they should have function. They hold all the qualities of previous work yet they are more open and exposed perhaps reflecting a developed confidence and maturity in the artist’s practice.

Last Summer Kefford completed a series of outdoor installations, for example, ‘Transport’ (part of Towner Off-site, Eastbourne) and ‘Inside Out’ at Wysing Arts Centre. Working outside presented different challenges for Kefford (like dealing with the natural elements) and yet the sense of the unknown has given him the freedom to expand his work into new territories without the restrictions of a ‘traditional’ exhibition space.

Sanna Moore, March 2009

Artist's biography

David Kefford (b. 1972) is an established artist currently based in Cambridgeshire. He is well-known for his sculptural works using found objects and more recently his installations in response to gallery spaces and off-site locations. Kefford completed his BA in Fine Art at Hull in 1996, followed by an MA at the University of Brighton. He has exhibited consistently since finishing his education with many solo shows, for example in 2005: The Balance of Being, Margaret Harvey Gallery, Rugby Art Gallery & Museum and 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe; Born Again, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire; Unbecoming, 1 000 000 mph Project Space, London, and previously with Moral Fibre, Derby Museum & Art Gallery (2004); Touching, The Gallery, Stratford-Upon-Avon (2003).

Kefford has been pivotal to several group exhibitions such as: SALE, The Royal Standard (Liverpool, 2009); Twenty, Dazed and Confused Gallery (London, 2008); Wysing Inside Out, Wysing Arts Centre (Cambridgeshire, 2008); One Thing Against Another, Aspex (Portsmouth, 2008); ArtFutures 08, Bloomberg Space (London, 2008); Members Show, Outpost (Norwich, 2007); Future Primitive, One in the Other (London, 2005); Origin of Species, Huddersfield Art Gallery (2005); World.B, Flaca Gallery (London, 2004). He also regularly undertakes commissions, such as ‘Individuals’, Kaavous–Bhoyroo Projects (Cambridge, 2008) and ‘RSVP Contemporary Artists at the Foundling’, Foundling Museum (London, 2007).

About Sanna Moore

Sanna Moore is Exhibitions Curator at Towner (Eastbourne), a new visual arts centre designed by Rick Mather Architects opening in April 2009.

From 2001 - 2007 she was Curator & Gallery Administrator at the University of Hertfordshire Galleries, which comprises of two spaces - the Art & Design Gallery (Hatfield) and the Margaret Harvey Gallery (St Albans).

Moore has completed a BA (Hons) in History of Art and Film Studies at Middlesex University and a MA in Gallery Studies from the University of Essex. Between 1997 - 2001 she worked in a number of London galleries, including South London Gallery, the Institute of Contemporary Arts and Whitechapel Art Gallery- where she started as a volunteer and graduated to paid work. She also worked for a short time in commercial galleries but was never serious about a career in the commercial art world.

Open Frequency keeps you in touch with new developments in contemporary art practice from across the UK. The artists are selected and profiled by leading curators, artists and writers, presenting the work of artists to watch out for over the coming year. Open Frequency represents a forward-looking glance today of the artists who will be setting the agenda tomorrow.