Susan Stockwell: Coffee House

Coffee House

A cascade of industrial quantities of toilet paper at Susan Stockwell's previous London exhibition caused a media outcry. Opinions were split over whether her ephemeral sculpture was an object of unusual and "ethereal" beauty, a view put forward by much of the serious‚ art press, or simply "meaningless" (Brian Sewell). The Daily Express crowned the artist "Mistress of the Rolls".

At Stockwell's winter 2002 exhibition, you will see a whole new series of sculptures and wall pieces inspired by Alda Caparrelli's London apartment and exhibition space (Studio Caparrelli, 7th Nov- 15th Dec). Indeed the gallerist Alda Caparrelli is an inspiration herself. Stockwell will be dressing her in costume made from a recycled everyday material (details to be revealed on the day) to become, for one evening a "crazy living sculpture".

The theme of Coffee House is the domestic environment. Quilts made from hundreds of tea bags carefully stitched together will be hanging over the windows. With the light of the evening sun filtering through the delicate paper and tea, the pieces generates a strange soft atmosphere which permeates the exhibition space. The 20+ new works are predominantly made from used coffee filters and tea bags, or from paper stained with the pigments in these drinks

Other pieces include paintings of common root vegetables created with coffee, and table sculptures made from Papier Maché. The central piece is a full-size wedding dress made from hundreds of used coffee filter papers and paper portion cups. Previously exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, this is the first time it will be shown in a smaller domestic setting more akin to what the artist originally envisaged.

Stockwell has an obsession with substances we use daily and take for granted. For example, she is fascinated by paper itself, its manufacture, history, politics and its material qualities. She has chosen coffee and tea for two reasons: the first is the sensual and visual appeal of the materials themselves; the second the underlying economic and political connections.

"Coffee and tea are two of the most heavily political and exploited commodities on the global market, and have been the cause of war for over two centuries. In the 18th century the export of tea from China led to the Opium wars. Under the current ecomomic status quo, coffee producers barely scrape a living while Western coffee distributers and trendy coffee shops make millions. They are luxury items that we do not regard as such. And both substances are, on the one hand, pleasant hot drinks, associated with times of relaxation and homeliness, while on the other they are deeply poisonous drugs - an injection of pure caffeine would be lethal. I want to deconstruct the notions we have about the things we consume, throw away and take for granted, but hopefully also to reconstruct something new and meaningful out of what is left ."
Susan Stockwell

Stockwell has exhibited widely holding prestigious solo shows:

Susan Stockwell Selected Works (2001) - V A, London UK (2001)
Material Accomplices (2001) - Fine Silver Gallery, San Antonio, Texas, USA
Accumulations (2000) - Thomas Korzelius Fine Art, NY, USA, also at The Economist Plaza Gallery, London UK
Embedded (1996-7) - Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham, also at Battersea Arts Centre, and Wrexham Art Gallery
Paper Installation (1996) - Bernard Jacobsen,
She has also had solo exhibitions at Jibby Bean (London), The Crescent (Scarborough), and The Mappin Art Gallery (Sheffield)

She has been involved in group shows from Ohio to Ulan Batur, Tokyo to New York, and all over Europe. Stockwell is currently exhibiting at Lyon and Turnbull's Auction House (Aug 10th-22nd) and Bourne Fine Art (Aug 10th -31st) at the Edinburgh Festival.

Notes to Editors:

A Nice Hot Cuppa with Susan Stockwell
The artist will be giving a press talk on 7th November at 3pm.

Dressed for Tea
Susan Stockwell will be dressing the exhibition curator, Alda Caparelli, in clothes made from recycled everyday materials for the preview night, 7th November, 6.30-10.30pm.

7 November - 15 December 2002