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Art Watch : Charlotte Bracegirdle

Charlotte Bracegirdle is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across nay discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch. 

What if a person existed and there was no record of them? What if a person was living and breathing and nobody saw them, registered their presence? Or worse still what if suddenly a person is missing from life and existence. Charlotte Bracegridle through her work examines these tensions and underlying dynamics of such a narrative.

Particular to her own craft, Bracegirdle replicates old masters as glossy photographs on which she then paints to create a void. By doing so she challenges her audience to question how they saw what they saw and if they actually remembered. Charlotte engages ‘Appropriation’ as well as ‘Derivation’ as techniques in creating all her works. Through her project, she uncovers for the viewer and herself a landscape that is ‘uncanny’.

In her own words, she explains – “‘When a person no longer occupies a space everything appears different, but visually nothing is altered. Everything looks, smells and feels, as it was when that person was there. The pictures become empty stages, deserted and uncanny – left only with hints of past activity.’

Why Charlotte Bracegirdle?

Charlotte Bracegirdle’s investigates the subtle traces that are left behind, this could be a memory or a thing – an interaction even. She basically gives importance to the concept of space that is occupied by the individual. As a corollary, when a person ceases to occupies their space, everything appears different, however visually nothing is altered. The evidence suggests a presence but the eye is seeing otherwise. Deserted, uncanny and somewhat unsettling, the pictures become empty stages, the subject only with hints of past activity are recorded. Surreal shapes and familiar objects present, at a closer glance one can see shadows where once people rested.

‘Life is an individual experience, in which we become somebody for just a moment; to live and to enjoy our dreams, leaving inevitably a trace behind us.’ Says the artist.

Charlotte Bracegirdle graduated from the Fine Art from the Royal College of Art, London in 2006, with an MA. Since then she has exhibited widely in London, and has more recently been included in art fairs in Miami and New York. In 2008 Bracegirdle was a finalist in the Becks Canvas Award, and in 2009 was a runner up in the AXA Young Masters Art Prize.

Bracegirdle likes to work with images that already exist and are all reproductions, digitally mass produced in books, postcards or prints. This makes them more readily present in public memory.

Artistic Process

Part of her work is in the perfect picture print where the surface is usually glossy, with a perfect and even finish. To disrupts this surface she applies paint, leaving a shadow where once was a person or an object holding that person. She creates a tiny rip in the surface of the world, and in the consciousness of the observer, a new physical layer is prepared by her to be interrogated. The brush strokes weave a new narrative.

Charlotte subverts the narrative by erasing elements in the photographs –  and arrives at a new meaning. The result is an unnerving altered image. The interference is subtle.. and it requires a double-take.

Often Charlotte’s story is about loss, fear and lack of control, common existential themes that weave with her larger narrative. One can say that she is somewhat a mischievous interventionist – much like performing a magic trick where the tablecloth is shaken and – voila ! that which once stood has vanished.

Charlotte Bracegirdle lives and works in London.


For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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