NICOLE WERMERS: THE LONDON SHAPE: STANLEY PICKER GALLERY
The London Shape is the name attributed to the particular shape of teapots and cups characterized by a fanciful design, based upon Grecian ornamentation, that appeared in 1812 to almost instant popularity and became dominant over the common Bute by 1820.
An observer of urban life, artist and Stanley Picker Fellow Nicole Wermers (now nominated for the Turner Prize 2015) has consistently directed her attention to the subtle changes in public space and the elements of its evolving design. Her works have reflected upon the design of department store security gates, anti-slip plates, modular office furniture, ashtrays or dispensers. Whilst these components of public space are subject to shifting fashions, their perpetual presence both disciplines and determines our behaviour in everyday life.
Over the course of her Stanley Picker Fellowship – during which time she has been intrigued by the suburban location of the Stanley Picker Gallery and the late modernist Picker House, and their remoteness from the urban centre of London – Wermers has continued to investigate how the formal language of modernism has influenced the design of everyday objects and how one can render this influence visible by changes in perspective, dimension and form.The artist’s recent special commission for Tate Britain consists of a double-fronted coffee spoon entitled Manners, integrated into the otherwise generic cutlery in the new Café and Members Room. A recent series of sculptures called Abwaschskulpturen (Dishwashing Sculptures), are arrangements of antique porcelain, common earthenware and metallic kitchen devices placed inside modified dishwasher baskets to create formal compositions that fit precisely on top of white plinths. The choice of these often bizarre combinations are based both on formal criteria and the functional possibilities of stacking, whilst the final works can be read as emphatic references to the history of still life in painting.
For The London Shape the artist is producing a series of new sculptural works made with sheets of plate-glass laid out on trestles and featuring sculptural door pulls, knobs and handles each designed by Wermers herself. Seemingly extracted from an urban architectural context, these frame-less doors complete with attached hardware, also feature graphic posters, promotional and security stickers. The de-contextualisation of the objects and their shift from vertical to horizontal, release the doors and handles of their prescribed functionality and amplify their sculptural and material qualities.