ERIC HEWITSON
 

The Queen Motherís Swab (the culture of a cultural icon):

Hewitson is fascinated by the visual possibilities of sampling bacteria and fungi in petri dishes. Since being "Artist in Residence" at a major London hospital in 2000 he carries petri dishes in his back pocket to sample anything and everything.

Invited to Claridges he saw the Queen Mother also dining. Posing as a waiter he swooped across and picked up the fork her Majesty had been using which she had accidentally dropped to the floor. A quick trip to the Gents and the fork prongs were wiped onto the agar gel surface of a petri dish. Back in the laboratory the petri dish was incubated and the colonies of bacteria and fungi grew creating this unique living artwork and record of the Queen Mother.

No one is immune from the experiment. Hewitson has sampled and is sampling many other people. Some have asked to be sampled. Another "Royal" agreed to the experiment. All it takes is a touch as the bacteria and fungi are natural inhabitants of the skin, saliva, tears etc of each of us.

Hewitson draws on Leonardoís idea that art is not so much an end in itself as a means of scientific investigation. Consider Adzak in Paris documenting his body decay throughout his life or the work of Helen Chadwick, Stelarc or Orlan except Hewitson turns his insidious method onto others, questioning the boundaries of legality, morality and taste and the "self". Hewitsonís work is a vehicle for the expression of subversive ideas and systems - at the same time incorporating portraiture, still life and abstraction all in the one artwork. Hewitsons work is at the same time both pertinent and perverse.

Terry Duffy 18.10.02

 

                        

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