Thorny roses, toxic bluebells, and the carnivorous Venus flytrap are pinned beneath sheets of acrylic in the works of Ant Hamlyn. The London-based artist (previously) continues his herbarium-style sculptures that consider the human impulse to pick and preserve flowers. Vivid specimens at the height of life are squashed under the synthetic material, appearing supple, lively, and in the midst of suffocation.
In his latest body of work, Love, Death & Velvet, Hamlyn incorporates velvet alongside shiny, inflatable plastic. The soft, smooth fabric is an expensive, laborious textile historically accessible only to the wealthy, and using it for forget-me-not petals and colorful bouquets adds questions of value and comfort to the simultaneously playful and menacing sculptures. “The tactile act of hand stitching, stuffing, and squashing can either be seen as preservation or destruction,” the artist said recently. “Similarly to nostalgia, on one side remembering a fond place or memory, on the other, longing for a time that can never be replaced. I like the idea that my works have this melancholy twist.”
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