Mary Redmond’s sculptures often combine the industrial and the handmade. She frequently uses materials more usually found on building sites than in artworks, such as metal fencing, corrugated iron, breeze blocks or plastic tubing. Redmond uses these materials by altering and rearranging them to form abstract sculptural compositions. In this way everyday objects and materials are removed from their normal situations and expected meanings. Her work also sometimes responds to the history of modernist art, design and craft. Rather than following Modernism’s principle of ‘form follows function’, however, Redmond explores form in a more personal and playful way.
For her project at Platform in Glasgow, Redmond has produced a large-scale, site-specific sculptural installation using industrial building materials. The work is informed by the artist’s research into architecture and urban spaces including Easterhouse where Platform is based.
Amongst the works Redmond has made for Platform are hundreds of ‘tumbleweed’ sculptures. These pieces are made from rope, electrical tape and the ‘debris netting’ used on scaffolding. Tumbleweed has, thanks to its frequent appearance in movies, come to be a clichéd symbol of desert landscapes, or of any desolate, abandoned place. Glasgow is itself a city marked by many derelict sites and buildings. Redmond’s pieces, however, suggest possibility, movement and imagination as well as dereliction or desolation.
Alongside these tumbleweed sculptures are suspended ‘barriers’ made from corrugated PVC roof sheeting. These ‘barriers’ take on a symbolic resonance in the context of the immediate area with its myriad of real and imagined fences, walls and boundaries.
As with these new sculptures, Redmond has often treated mass-produced materials in a tactile manner in her work. For instance, she might bash and reshape industrial sheet metal by hand, or hand-dye threads to use in sculptural compositions. By doing so she brings a personal touch to her work that complicates the materials’ expected meanings. By showing how humble materials can take on new form, especially through painstaking work, Redmond suggests possibilities of humanising and caring for the worlds we inhabit.