NUZ SPIRIT OF EWE is the culmination of a two-month residency at Two Rooms, with new works responding directly to the landscape and history of New Zealand. The soft, convoluted forms of the NUDS sculptures have been interwoven with local objects, including sheep’s skulls and teeth and volcanic rocks. While echoing Lucas’s suggestive deployment of found objects in earlier works, these natural items also allude to the use of stone and animal bones in ancient Māori art. Other new works revisit familiar objects and materials such as concrete blocks and toilets: stuffed tights protrude fragmentarily from stacked breeze blocks or snake viscerally in and out of a pair of toilet bowls. Lucas has donated one of the works to the Christchurch earthquake appeal.
Sarah Lucas’s new series of sculptures;(2009–10) consists of nylon tights stuffed with fluff and fashioned into ambiguous biomorphic forms. The works lean towards primitivism and abstraction, and their sexual element links them with the gender-orientated works that defined Lucas’s practice in the early 1990s and after, in which assemblages of found objects became stand-ins for the female body (for example, Bitch, 1995, consists of two melons slung inside a T-shirt stretched around a table). The tactile and ephemeral materials used in the NUDS sculptures also reflect Lucas’s use of the ‘readymade’ – from furniture to tabloid newspapers and cigarettes. In particular, they recall early works, such as the Bunny series of 1997 which approximated sexual female forms – fragile, available, literal – through disembodied and gesturing limbs. The coinage ‘NUDS’ itself implies knots, nodes or nudes and is evidence of Lucas’s use of puns, slang and language as an element of her sculpture. The works brim with other allusions, inviting different interpretations from the tender to the auto-erotic.
Sarah Lucas (b. 1962) emerged in the 1990s as one of Britain’s leading contemporary artists. Spanning sculpture, photography and installation, her works are characterised by confrontational humour, sexual puns and an ironic exploration of Englishness. In 1988 Lucas participated in the seminal group show ‘Freeze’, which launched the careers of major British artists including Damien Hirst. This is the first time her work has been shown in New Zealand.