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Roman Plastic (Tree) 2005

Francis Upritchard (born 1976, Christchurch, New Zealand)

Roman Plastic Tree
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Copyright: Copyright The Artist; Courtesy of the Artist and Kate MacGarry, London

With the quirky inventiveness of a hobbyist, Upritchard has lovingly personalised a mass-produced object. The cheap thrift-store plastic plant pot is copied from an upmarket ceramic Wedgewood piece. A key product of Josiah Wedgewood’s eighteenth century factories was jasper ware, whose classical friezes, realised in bas-relief against a trademark blue background, evoke ‘high’ culture. The addition of Upritchard’s lid, inspired by the tree from the frieze, breaks the rules of classical proportions in design and so appears incongruous. Upritchard’s work is deliberately clumsy, even botched. She professes not to research because she doesn’t want to get it right. The result is an idiosyncratic handicraft whose messiness opposes the modernist mantra of pure, clean design. With a gung-ho, make-do-and-mend pragmatism, she indicts the standardisation and commodification of late capitalist consumerism. Classical design is associated with the mausoleum, the museum, the monumental – in other words with death. One might conjecture the purpose of this container, ponder the nature of its contents…

Acquisition Details

Acquired from Kate MacGarry, London, 2005
Purchased with funds from the National Collecting Scheme for Scotland which was originated and operated 2003-2006 by the Contemporary Art Society and supported by the National Lottery through the Scottish Arts Council.
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