Image: Holiday Inn (‘Bringing Home Baby’ series), 2018. Acrylic on canvas 122 x 152 cm⁠


Bringing Home Baby

15 September – 31 October 2020

Saltoun Online: Women 2.0

‘Bringing Home Baby’ is an online presentation by Violet COSTELLO, winner of the 2020 ‘Procreate Project – Mother Art Prize Online Award’. Featuring new paintings and works on paper created over the last two years, the exhibition marks the first show in a commercial gallery context for the artist. It launches as part of Richard Saltoun Gallery’s Women 2.0 series, a new programme of online exhibitions presenting work by non-represented artists with the aim of providing an additional platform and visibility for women artists.

The work of Violet Costello is inspired by the complexities of the human condition: our quirks and familiarities, our moments of loneliness and moments of joy, the ways in which we identify and represent ourselves in and to the world. With a practice incorporating painting, sculpture and installation, Costello explores the home, familial relations and society’s ability to shape identity. A common thread in much of her work has been the consideration of children’s world of play, a realm where reality readily gives way to, and is confused with, imagination – as can be seen in her ambitious series Bringing Home Baby.

The paintings in Bringing Home Baby depict the meeting of innocent babyhood with prevailing, if idiosyncratic, culture. In each work, a baby is confronted by the foreign and intensely detailed culture of a family home: Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch on the floor or the 1970s American sitcom Flying Nun on TV; two men happily knitting; a sunburnt dad barbecuing; a bejewelled mom sunbathing; a blue teen in angst; a tattooed mother in a swim cap; and a buttoned-up father in a monkey hat. The walls are hung with art: a Basquiat, a black velvet nude, a Klimt, a bullfighter. The absurd, dreamlike quality of these domestic scenes evokes the strangeness of a baby’s new world and is suggestive of the complex processes by which culture defines and imposes the identity that will shape a baby’s life.

The online presentation is part of the Procreate Project – Mother Art Prize, where Costello was awarded the Online Award for three paintings in her Bringing Home Baby series: Holiday Inn, Peek Freans and Touch Him (all 2018). In addition to these paintings, and several more made specifically for the show, Costello will debut new works on paper, including sketches for works in Bringing Home Baby, such as Wieners, Art in America and Three Cats (all 2020), as well as a loose, auto-biographical self-portrait from her Meseries.

“Among 626 entries from 45 countries, selected by an incredible line up of judges, Violet Costello was the undoubted winner of the Mother Art Prize 2020 Online Award. Violet’s works reimagine figurative art into an engaging new language that combines imagination, play and the grotesque. Costello offers interesting new narratives around the idea of family, care and socio-cultural imprints. As directors of an organisation that promotes and investigates themes surrounding the maternal experience and identity, Violet is definitely an exciting discovery and we look forward to working with her in the future,” said Dyana Gravina, Founder and Creative Director, Procreate Project.

Born in Morpeth, England in 1957, Costello moved to Canada as a child at the age of four. Costello studied at the Alberta College of Art before transferring to the Emily Carr College of Art and Design, where she graduated with an honours diploma in 3-Dimensional Studies and received the J.W. McConnell Memorial Fellowship upon graduation. Costello later earned an MFA in sculpture from Concordia University in Montreal. She has taught at Concordia and the University of Saskatchewan. Costello has been on the rosters of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Calgary Arts Partners in Education Society (CAPES) and the City of Calgary Public Art Program. She has received awards from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, British Columbia Culture and Canada Council. Her large-scale sculptural installations have been exhibited throughout Canada in solo and group shows at venues including Latitude 53 Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta; Western Front Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.; Devonian Art Gallery, Calgary, Alberta; and AKA Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; amongst others.

The 2020 Mother Art Prize judging panel included: Niamh Coghlan, Director, Richard Saltoun Gallery; Pauline de Souza, Director, Diversity Art Forum; Elvira Dyangani Ose, Director, The Showroom, London and Lecturer, Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths University; Eva Langret, Artistic Director, Frieze London; Claire Mander, Chair of Steering Committee of UK Friends of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and Director, theCoLAB; and Frances Morris, Director, Tate Britain. The 2020 edition featured three prize categories: the Winner’s Award, including a £500 Cash Prize and two week solo exhibition at The Showroom in summer 2021; an International Award, including a four week residency at the White House Dagenham (in partnership with Create London) and £500 worth of art materials sponsored by Colart; and an Online Award, including an online exhibition with Richard Saltoun Gallery and two mentoring sessions with Sylvie Gormezano, Director, Picture This Productions and the Chair of the Association of Women Art Dealers (AWAD).

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