Emma Magnusson-Reid is the winner of the inaugural Salamanca Arts Centre Emerging Artist Scholarship and it’s easy to see why. Her work is strong and engaged, multifaceted and operates with confidence on a number of levels.
Magnusson-Reid makes sculptures, but she’s not bound by traditional notions of what sculpture is. Her work is mostly soft sculpture; objects are made from various types of cloth, often sewn – materials we associate with clothing or even with the world of fashion.
But as clothes cover the body, Magnusson-Reid’s art exposes it. Perhaps this is her attempt to communicate the stranger aspects of having a body: sometimes our bodies do things we have no control over. We get sick, we feel tired, we experience physical change. Women experience sensations connected with fertility, pregnancy and birth.
What we see here is a collection of objects that are recognisably associated with life – an organ, something from the ocean or another ecology far removed from anything we understand: alien, but familiar, and rolled together with a sense of the grotesque and beautiful.
Appearance is just one layer, though. Magnusson-Reid is hand-making objects out of a variety of materials, and there’s a strong sense of her working with the materiality of whatever she is using. She allows the textiles to inform the end product, giving the work a feeling of rich evolution. Hard objects are incorporated, too, making it all the more complex, strange and engrossing. Objects have hidden secrets and demand close inspection from different angles.
As the works have evolved, so has Magnusson-Reid’s output. There are also prints, which she has seemingly created by putting her forms on a scanner and collaging the results. These works have a remarkable quality and show how far Magnusson-Reid has come in trying to investigate what her art practice is and what she can do with it.
Something like this could relax into being mere schtick quite quickly, but she is not tying her work to one format or approach.
This show features sculpture and prints, but I would not be surprised to see her delve into video or performance. The investigation is the centre here; the mediums are clearly at service to the pursuit of ideas.
Products of Conception and The Human Parasite Installation by Emma Magnusson-Reid.
Emma Magnusson-Reid’s Metaphysical Prolaps monoprint.