This work is from a series of sculptures by Natalie Dray called ‘Be soft / be hard’, made from steel and pewter alloys using traditional and invented craft techniques. Prophylactics and foliage surfaces have been hand cast and degraded or enhanced using processes and pigments that reference trends in the cosmetic industry. The work attempts to simulate natural surfaces whilst engaging with ideas of artifice or ‘the no make up-make up look’, and ways in which human bodies are constructed and laboured. Building on previous exhibitions that worked with industrial influences to formalise aesthetic expression -from International Standards in mechanical hardware to beauty counter skin tone swatches- the project looks at the connection of Sculpture and its role in establishing stereotypes found throughout notions of Beauty and Aesthetics.
be soft / be hard – 1. a material with very low quantities found naturally occurring in the human body, used in the process of correcting perceived imperfections (in antiperspirants) and as camouflage to the aging process (in makeup powders) 2. working in synergy with the skin, ‘inhuman’ qualities are reprocessed into compounds to become a skin compatible substitute for the alteration to effectively disguise a ‘human’ imperfection 3. the material is flawed, but smart, in the sense that it too has been retouched to be effectively used as a retoucher 4. fragile and tenuously cancelling out perceived weakness in all things combined, metal to flesh, with expensive packaging 5. the final touch is all fun and games until you see a picture of your eyebrows from 2009.
Review: Natalie Dray, Chris Fite-Wassilak, Frieze, 3 June 2016: https://frieze.com/article/natalie-dray