Renowned for her interest in animals, zoology and our perceptions of nature, Edwina Ashton uses creatures to explore awkward human sensations, social relationships and language. “Animals act and do things but we have little access to their mental states.”
Ashton’s practice includes animation, performance, drawing and installation. Her hand-drawn, animated films hinge on the mismatch between our intentions and reality, offering tiny narratives that draw on painful observations of everyday behaviour and individual foibles; “I’m interested in constructing characters and objects from the flimsiest of means and setting emotions up against ridiculous scenarios.”
Writing about one of Ashton’s films, Sally O’Reilly observed, “The ensuing absurdist dialogue groans with bad gags and twisting contradictions as the human and animal worlds writhe uncomfortably together.” This combination of slapstick and pathos is similarly a leitmotif of Ashton’s exhibitions and performances; scraps and debris suggestive of backstage at an amateur pantomime – exuberant re-purposing – audiences brushing up against odd and beguiling situations.
The title refers to a familiar human fallibility – how, while meaning to do and be better, we never quite manage it. The most foolish concerns stop us. How is it that we repeatedly sleepwalk to calamity? “I’m drawn to things that aren’t quite right, especially in public; social embarrassment and the awkwardness of being being a lone visible object. We are surrounded by smooth-running images and ideas but the reverse seems to be true. In an aptitude test for office work I got 1 per cent!”
Tintype’s annual Project Space invites an artist to use the gallery as a studio space or workshop for the weeks running-up to an exhibition, enabling an experimental approach or helping to achieve a specific aim.