"We must simply accept that there is no guidebook to tell us what to do."

Racheal Crowther's art work attempts to make sense of the things in our lives that affect us the most, but without us really realising.

Words by Scott Causier

Rachel Crowther

Words: 1050
Est reading time: 5 mins

Often art work attempts to make sense of the things in our lives that affect us without us really realising. As Racheal Crowther says, "we must simply accept that there is no guidebook to tell us what to do”.

Working predominantly with installation, the Irish artist lives and works in Peckham and recently exhibited in a collaborative show with Dan Szor, neither happy nor an hour, at Caustic Coastal in Manchester. Both artists worked together to produce a site-specific installation that combining their visual language.

"I am trying to develop a strong visual language and identity which is documentative and reliant on first-hand experience and emotional analysis. My practice is an ultra-specific exploration of feeling." 

Her life experiences have largely informed this language as she creates a physical record within which she explores “the mapping of insecurities, questioning human base-drives, observing emotional cycles and triggers”. In this sense she is able to channel her unique sensitivity to objects, events and material to define her experiences surrounding attraction, erraticism, loss, love and labour.

"I think about the notion of these brands playing into our insecurities, developing a reliance upon these products that we don't need that are sold to us under the guise of ‘this will make things better.’" 

Racheal’s tactile representation of environments from her past and present living situations reflect both memories and experiences that shape her every day. In this world, she is drawn to environments that depict a sense of human absence. "I'm interested in the power of presence minus a body through traces, residue, marks, rips, tears and scars."

Rachael Crowther

As an artist living and working in London, Racheal is influenced by how human emotions can manifest themselves in a building or physical space as installation work not only provides her with an effective medium of expression, but a financially viable artistic platform. "Financially, I haven't always been able to afford a studio, or even when I have a studio; the space itself was incredibly limited but that's London for you.

"Time spent testing things on a small scale is important. Spending time researching, reviewing and documenting is the main bonding agent in my practise."

Her approach allows for a completely unique execution of installation relying heavily on the features of the existing structure to provide variety within the boundaries of her carefully constructed visual language.

Evident through much of her work is the integration of everyday advertising and branding as the images and messages she presents hold an air of familiarity, but are juxtaposed with a contextual change in what they are trying to communicate to us. 

"I'm infatuated with people. There are endless possibilities when looking into our volatile relationships, emotional cycles, bad habits.” 

Her idea is to expose how we are manipulated by what surrounds us in society highlighting the false sense of trust we place in these products."I think about the notion of these brands playing into our insecurities, developing a reliance upon these products that we don't need that are sold to us under the guise of ‘this will make things better’.

"This demonstrates the true extent of our perishability within the society that we live in and how those insecurities are exploited in our quest for self-improvement and preservation.

Rachael Crowther

"They are offering us a false solution, a quick fix, an antidote. When thought about in reference to my work, I think about products that are used situationally to an event; what they mean, what they offer, what their ‘powers’ are and how they become routine procedure, a reliance, a trust."

Hijacking the logos and languages of brands effectively alongside personal imagery and points of self-reference gives her work the weight that is sometimes lacking in others attempting to communicate these sentiments and ideas. Indeed her return to everyday objects such as the t-shirt gives an almost diary like familiarity to her means of documentation.

“We have to be open, learn along the way, fuck up, lose sight and come back round."

Images of the past can share the same space as those that some may call the banal grotesque such as the interior of a butcher's shop. Again, possibly exposing us to parts of the everyday that may not see as we passively go about our business.

The key thing that supports Racheal's ideas, language and aesthetic is the frankness of it. It repackages familiar information into a format where you can begin to question its sentiment. All of these conventions amalgamate to provide works of a serious playfulness, physical documentation of an individual working through the issues of their life. 

'I'm infatuated with people. There are endless possibilities when looking into our volatile relationships, emotional cycles, bad habits.” 

Rachael Crowther

Indeed, it is her ability to turn the everyday trials and tribulations of life, mundane or otherwise, into something interesting thought provoking and often profound that defines her work. “We have to be open, learn along the way, fuck up, lose sight and come back round."

Rachael will be participating alongside Dan Szor in the second annual Artist Self-Publishers' Fair at the ICA in London on September 10th and will be showing in "What's that dirt under your nails made of?", a group show curated by Nina Kettiger, Lukas Hofmann and Thomas Skibicki at Karlin Studios, Prague, Czech Republic on 2nd December.