Open Frequency 2010: Will Woon selected by Chris Brown

Open Frequency 2010: Will Woon selected by Chris Brown Will Woon, House for Home, 2008. Wood, modelling clay, cardboard. 19 x 20 x 14 cm

Chris Brown selects the work of Will Woon

At first glance, Will Woon’s practice may seem rooted rather soberly in the traditional, in its references to classical sculpture and notable historical figures. While this is true, it doesn’t take long for an inquisitive viewer to spot another level of meaning where his idiosyncrasies and obscure nuttiness are at play. 

His figurative pieces exude an austerity or nobility that might seem incongruous, like Charles Perrault’s Puss in Boots: neither surreal nor ridiculous, Woon’s figures have an integrity that prevents humour from tipping over into clownishness.

Woon produces sculptures on a diminutive scale. Often finely detailed and exotic, they hint at narratives in an ongoing commentary of his world. ‘House for Home’ (2008), for example, presents a highly intricate miniature of a rural building in a Welsh architectural style. The walls are ‘stone’ (rendered in modelling clay), patterned with foundations and cornerstones of a different ‘stone’ (a different coloured clay). As with the rural Welsh cottages on which it is based, the ‘stone’ construction looks solid and of a quality that would easily outlast more modern styles of architecture and contemporary materials. Yet the solidity of this cottage is inexplicably compromiseed: it has been built on six teetering wooden struts, each imbued with a vague elegance by its simple carving and ‘informal’ posture. 

This bizarre ‘misplacing’ evokes recent proposals by government advisors to address the future prospect of harsher flooding in our urban landscapes and its potential impact on housing, yet these struts would seem to bear a closer resemblance to the legs of a creature in mid-teeter than to any solid architectural structure. Coupled with a messy thatch of wood, that could offer no shelter whatsoever, this structure could scarcely be considered either a house or home; it is this irony that produces the tragic-comedic tone of much of Woon’s work.

Writing is a key part of Woon’s practice and gives expression to the idiosyncratic thought-processes that typify his sculptural practice: 

‘Patterns of thinking implanted by Donald Judd and Ace of Base mix with the freshly consumed scotch egg in my stomach. The resulting chemical fallout feels like a balloon has been inflated in between my medulla and the rest of my brain. The pressure built up by the balloon causes my face to screw up and my tongue to go dry. More tea is needed.’ (Will Woon).

Chris Brown, August 2009

Artist's biography

Will Woon is based in Melksham, Wiltshire. He studied BA Sculpture at University Wales Institute Cardiff from 2004 to 2007. Selected group exhibitions include Koda, an artist-led exhibition at the Koda group studios, Grangetown, Cardiff; Welsh National Eisteddfod 2008, Llandaff Fields, Cardiff; Welsh Artist of the Year, Saint David’s Hall, Cardiff, Garej, Dublin (all 2008). Woon’s work was included in the Jerwood Drawing Prize exhibition which toured various venues in the UK from November 2007 to May 2008.

About Chris Brown

Chris Brown is an artist, musician and co-founder of the artist-run organisation g39. He is responsible for g39's strategic development within Wales, the UK and beyond. He is also Magazine Coordinator for a-n The artists information company, and acts in an advisory capacity for a-n's NAN and AIR initiatives. Chris is currently studying postgraduate Composition and Jazz at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (Cardiff) and is a member of Go Faster Stripe, an independent collective that promotes high-profile UK comedians through its programme of live acts and DVD production.

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.