David Gates

The three pieces that make up Interlocutors: Cabinets for Small Curiosities have an explicit visual relationship to particular architectural forms, the kind of ‘found’ architecture of industrial and agricultural structures that have long fascinated me. Each piece is named for the specific locations where that imagery – through drawings and photographs of line, structure, and mass – have found particular resonance in these new works. The intention has been that the three cabinets speak to each other as a coherent whole as much as they speak to the things that they will house.

In the Goffman (1974) series, I have sought to produce works that are almost devoid of characteristics. As such they focus attention on the objects we see in or on them, or through them in the larger environment: they frame aspects of experience. But by presenting such minimal pieces they also help us to invert the figure/ground situation to ask what it is that the furniture does. The (hypothetical) silver vessel is assumed to be the figure and the cabinet the ground. These pieces clearly have a physical presence and a level of precision in their making but lack many of the ‘signifiers’ of craft/studio furniture such as beautiful joinery, and are made from relatively commonplace materials. By this measure they are deliberately banal: I have intended that they be looked through literally and metaphorically. They frame the objects that they support, and they frame views of the space beyond. In this way they reach inward to their relationship to what they contain, and outward to what contains them. These frames change individually and in relationship to each other as we move around the pieces. – David Gates


David Gates designs and makes furniture from his studio and workshop in South London. He has exhibited extensively throughout the U.K. and won the prestigious British prizes ‘Wesley Barrell Craft Award for Established Makers’ (2011) and the ‘Jerwood Award for Contemporary Making’ (2010). Gates is a founder member of the artist-led collective, Intelligent Trouble, a trans-disciplinary project exploring the idea of the social production of work. Through working collaboratively in projects such as Intelligent Trouble, Gates has found the avenues to explore materials and processes beyond his expertise in wood, particularly textile, metal and sound. His thesis-based PhD research at King’s College London focuses on the communicative practices, narratives and discourses of craft practice. He has recently authored a chapter for the book Oral History in the Visual Arts. (Partington and Sandino, eds.) He was a part-time senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University from 2002-2011 writing, supervising and delivering studio, workshop and theory aspects of furniture, product and craft courses. Recent exhibitions include; Taking Time; Craft and the Slow Revolution, (2009-11) Intelligent Trouble at Contemporary Applied Arts (2010), Jerwood Contemporary Makers, (2010-11), Starting Points at the Siobhan Davies Dance Studios (2010), Host, San Francisco (2011) and The Tool at Hand, Milwaukee (2012).

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