Debbie Lawson makes sculptures and inlaid panels depicting conflict and seduction. There is a sense of domestic psychodrama in her sculptures, where often disparate household objects collide with each other or explode, creating a sort of animated hybrid that has a quietly sinister inner life and aspirations to be bigger than itself. Often using wolves or copulating couples as protagonists, her panels resemble episodes in a picaresque tale, exploring the psychological landscape of the domestic interior as they gradually unfold to reveal strange truths about the world through a series of misadventures.
Sometimes the weird psychological landscapes that emerge in dreams and nightmares assert themselves into daily life when you least expect them. The results can be quite surprising – or unnerving. A panelled wall can turn into a forest of roaming wolves or the pages of a banal sex manual; a wooden table into a reluctant mechanical toy; a roll of lino into a relentless tundra; a Persian carpet into a blood-splattered domestic catastrophe.
Merged with the stuff that surround us, popular narratives and personal histories and are intertwined so that the imaginary and material reality seem inseparable.
Debbie Lawson started by making kinetic and large-scale sculpture, warping ordinary furniture into different shapes or giving it a dramatic other life according to what she saw as its own particular aspirational quality. Then, as now, she was interested in found furniture, household objects, rooms and furnishings that were tinged with the quiet melodrama or melancholy of suburban family life.
In past few years she has made an occasional table collapse and rebuild itself as if by magic when a person walks by; a flock of books fly overhead, a row of fancy chairs do the can-can and a nest of tables grow into the size of a room so you could walk through the legs. More recently, she has been inlaying marquetry images into specially veneered wooden boards or random offcuts of plywood, subverting the images of a traditional craft to create scenes of conflict and seduction.
Debbie Lawson graduated with an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art in 2004. She was born in Dundee and now lives and works in London.
Royal College of Art, MA Sculpture
Central Saint Martins College of Art, BA Hons Fine Art (1.0)
University of East Anglia, BA Hons English Literature
2007 The Joy, The Brick Lane Gallery, London, curated by Kate Street
Pilot 3 (nominated by Doriane Laithier, SS Cosma e Damiano (Venice Biennale)
Arboreal, Transition Gallery, London, curated by Tobi Deeson
Incorporate, A&B, London, curated by Exhibit-K
2006 Shibboleth, Dilston Grove, London, curated by Neil Drabble
Myth of Place, Nolia’s Gallery, London/Ox Warehouse Gallery, Macao, China
Sense and Sensuality (Finalist), Bankside Gallery, London/University of Leicester
Small Mischiefs, Pump House Gallery, London
Another Product, Cornerhouse, Manchester
2005 Siege, Siege House, London, curated by Angela Huntbach
2004 Violin/Violence 1,000,000mph Gallery, London, curated by Dallas Seitz
Everyday Shockers, The A Gallery, London
Out of Time St Augustine's Tower, London
2003 Step Two, Aram Experimental Gallery, London
ff The Lost Collection of an Invisible Man, Laing Gallery, Newcastle, curated by Brian Griffiths
2002 Moving Parts, Studio Voltaire, London, curated by Nik Ramage
ff Trivial Pursuit, Centre for Cultural Decontamination, Belgrade
ff SV Open, Studio Voltaire, London, curated by Eva Tait
ff Dundee Contemporary Arts Print Open, Cooper Gallery
ff The Necessary Enemy, Bart Wells Institute, London, curated by Brian Griffiths
ffDirections, Lethaby Gallery, London
2001 Futuremap 2001, London Institute Gallery, London
ffThe 6,000 Sq Ft Project, London, curated by young-art.com
PRESS / PUBLICATIONS
Visionaire Uncensored, ed. Mario Testino, 2005
Exhibitions, Art Monthly, No 265, April 2003
Reviews, Untitled, No 28, Summer 2002
Commercial Spaces, Evening Standard Hot Tickets, 10 May 2002
Go See, The Observer, 10 June 2001
The Saatchi Collection, Mario Testino, private collections worldwide