[Bristol, UK ::: b. 1968]
BETH CARTER is a visual artist based in Bristol, UK. Her sculpture and drawings often morph the human figure with animal creating mythological creatures and extraordinary fictional compositions. She is represented by galleries in the UK, Belgium and the USA and has work held in private collections across Europe, USA, Canada, South America, Asia and Australia and in the permanent collection at the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins, France.
The artist says of her sculptures...
Working within the realms of a sculptural tradition where the symbolic use of animal imagery is a potent and continuous source, my work creates allegories by, amongst other things, integrating the human form with animal forms. The resulting imagery holds both a timeless significance and a contemporary relevance despite and because of our separation from the natural world. It is important for me that my sculpture and drawings are accessible on an individual level as well as implicating more archetypal themes common to human experience.
Author, Bonnie Brooks, says of Beth Carter...
"Anyone who shares Beth Carter’s fascination with the human condition must surely embrace the invitation to be found in her body of work. For here, among the richly detailed drawings and careful sculptures, we discover an unfolding meditation on those existential dilemmas that beset us all, and a world of its own in the making. This starkly beautiful and haunting world is both particular and universal, at once strange and immediately familiar, because it so powerfully evokes that forever surprising annex of our own lives: the chambers of our night dreams, our subconscious imaginings, and our performances of gender and personhood.
These Carter chambers, magical and haphazard though they might at first appear, are constructed with considerable imaginative care. The use of charcoal in her drawings reinforces the night theme, as if the maudlin women, the strange animal-men, the consuming eyes are beckoning us into the shadows of our perceptions which sleep gives way to…and we aren’t always sure we want to follow. The peculiar and seemingly random choices of figures in the composition build to create a sense of wilful arbitrariness, akin not just to dreams but the playful irreverence of childhood; another of Carter’s preoccupations. In ‘The Long Way Home’ for example, a fox-man and a young girl hold hands while she steps away: are they dancing, or is he pulling her into the shadows of the woods beyond? So much of this imagery parodies the strange precariousness of a time when we were small – when we wanted to play but we could not be sure of our own perceptions and didn’t know who to trust.
The destabilization of classical mythology within the lineage of sculpture is a consistent theme in Carter’s work, with bird-heads and cat-heads appearing as her less predatory take on the Minotaur legend. Cleverly, she can conflate and complicate those classical myths and those of contemporary masculinity at the same time. For example in ‘Minotaur on a Box’, we see one of history’s great symbols of rapacious hyper-maleness reduced to a slumping, defeated figure – evoking connotations of abashed, middle-aged manhood. Perhaps, too, Carter’s ‘Free Reign’ horse-man sculpture could be read as an embodiment of the partly self-imposed constraints of personhood in society – on our physical, essential natures and desires – or, perhaps in gendered terms, the shackles of contemporary ‘manhood’ itself.
Such questions could occupy the viewer for hours, and this is work far more rewarding than much of the ‘art for artists’ that still claims so much space. In the accomplishment of Carter’s technique – the humanity in the faces, even the animal faces, through the careful lines, through the shading – she prompts a rare kind of empathy towards her subjects, making her a distinct force to be reckoned with in the world of figuration.
In many ways, Beth Carter’s work is like a Jungian dream forest, where the shadow waits, and the ghosts of strange beings beckon and frighten, beguile and terrify in equal measure. Indeed, it was Jung himself who counseled the courting of the psyche’s shadow. Such Carter images as the minstrel at the entrance to the skirt-tent bring to mind the dwarf of Jung’s visions, who guarded the door to his unconscious. Except that in these visions, we are not kept out but invited in. To gaze, to meditate upon the work of Beth Carter is indeed to meet, to romance, the shadow."
- Bonny Brooks
[download full CV below]
1992-1995 BA (Hons) Fine Art, Sunderland University, UK
1993-1994 Placement at the Cyprus College of Art, Cyprus
1991 Period of study at the Academy of Fine Art, Sofia, Bulgaria
1990-1991 Art Foundation, Bath College of Further Education, UK
Feb-Mar 2020 Winter Collective II, Hugo Galerie, Soho, NY, USA
Jan 2020 London Art Fair, Beaux Arts Bath, London, UK
Nov 2019 SOFA Sculpture Projects Functional Art and Design, Hugo Galerie, Chicago, USA
Oct-Nov 2019 Solo Exhibition – New Sculptures, Beaux Arts Bath, Bath, UK
July 2019 Market Art and Design, Hugo Galerie, Bridgehampton Museum, Bridgehampton, NY, USA
Jun 2019 Back to the Drawing Board, Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Glasgow, UK
Jun 2019 Solo Exhibition – Power and Vulnerability, M Fine Arts Galerie, Boston MA, USA
Mar-Jun 2019 RWA Sculpture Open Exhibition, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, UK
Mar 2019 Affordable Art Fair, Brussels, LKFF Art and Sculpture Projects, Brussels, Belgium
Jan 2019 London Art Fair, Beaux Arts Bath, London, UK
Dec 2018-Feb As the Crow Flies, Bo Lee Gallery, London, UK
Nov-Dec 2018 Solo Exhibition – Minotaur -The Golden Thread, Hugo Galerie, Soho, NY, USA
Oct-Nov 2018 Magical Realism, Hugo Galerie, Soho, NY, USA
Sep 2018 Hybridization and duality, LKFF Art and Sculpture Projects, Brussels, Belgium
Jul-Aug 2018 Mythos, Charlie Smith London, London, UK
Apr-Jun 2018 Solo Exhibition – Shadow Stories, LKFF Art and Sculpture Projects, Brussels, Belgium
Mar-Jun 2018 Sawdust and Sequins: The Art of the Circus, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, UK
Oct 2017 Solo Exhibition of New Work, Beaux Arts Bath, UK
Jun 2017 Exhibition with Helen Flockhart, Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh, UK
Feb 2017 Making Bronzes, Milwyn Casting, The Lightbox Gallery and Museaum, Woking, UK
Jan 2017 London Art Fair, Beaux Arts Bath, UK
Jan 2017 Group Show, M Fine Arts Galerie, Boston MA, USA
Oct 2016 Solo Exhibition - Between the Ancients and Me, Hugo Galerie, Soho, NY, USA
Sep 2016 Group Show, Panter and Hall, London, UK
Jun-Aug 2016 Artists of Fame and Promise, Beaux Arts Bath, UK
Jun-Aug 2016 Chuchoter À Travers La Rivière, Hugo Galerie (NY) at Stanek Galerie, Philadelphia, USA
May 2016 Inaugural Exhibition, M Fine Arts Galerie, Boston MA, USA
Mar 2016 Affordable Art Fair, Battersea, London, represented by Beaux Arts Bath, UK
Jan 2016 London Art Fair, Islington, London, represented by Beaux Arts Bath, UK
Jan 2016 Winter Fête Group Show, Georges Bergès Gallery, Soho, New York, USA
Oct 2015 ODYSSEY, Bo.Lee Gallery, The Chapel of The House of St Barnabas, London, UK
AWARDS, RESIDENCIES, RESEARCH
2017 South West Regional Prize, National Open Art Competition, Mercer’s Hall, London, UK
2007-2009 Research travel, Gambia, Kenya and Tanzania
2006 Two month Residency at Bronze Casting Foundry, in Guadalajara, Mexico
2002 Research travel and work, Womad World of Music and Dance, New Zealand
2000 South West Arts, UK, Individual Artist Award to produce new body of work
1997 Research travel, Sri Lanka and India, studying devotional / mythological Sculpture
1996 Northern Arts, UK, Travel Award to Crete
1996 South West Arts, UK, Travel assistance grant
1995 First Prize, Northern Graduates Show The Royal College of Art, London