Rachel Kneebone Arrives At The V&A
From a distance, it’s easy to mistake Rachel Kneebone’s glossy five meter high structure for one of the Renaissance columns that surround it. Her smaller works too, shown in a separate space, blend seamlessly with the surrounding marble sculptures of Rodin. Coincidence? I think not. It’s only upon closer inspection, that the sinister entanglement of human limbs become apparent. Amid perfectly proportioned sculptures of the human form that surround them, Rachel’s works appear even more surreal – like they’re made up from discarded offcuts that didn’t quite make the grade for the real thing. Coral-like eruptions of hundreds of legs protrude at all angles, patches of flowers and twisted tendrils make it feel overgrown. Forgotten, almost.
This is also true of Kneebone’s three smaller works – they too are made up of cascading swells of anonymous legs, out-of-proportion calfs and thighs, like refuse piles from a doll factory. A tangle of limbs in one homogenous mass may not sound like a barrel of laughs, but there’s something hauntingly beautiful about these shiny, almost translucent, porcelain moulds. The complexity of them draws you in to see what other forms can be made out beneath the tangled chaos of the surface. When the works are fired, the clay contracts, loses moisture and cracks, but this is incorporated into the works by Kneebone and only adds to the delicate power of the sculptures. The work is called 399 Days, the time it took from the first day of moulding to the final firing, and can be found at the V&A now. And it’s free. There’s no excuse.
Rachel Kneebone at the V&A is on now until Sunday 14th January