Exquisite corpse: a masterclass with Cathie Pilkington RA

Two-day masterclass and practical workshop

Courses and Classes

● Fully booked

  • 8 April 2017, 10.30am — 5.30pm
  • 9 April 2017, 10.30am — 5.30pm

Cathie Pilkington RA in her studio

Award-winning sculptor, figurative artist and Royal Academician Cathie Pilkington leads this exclusive weekend masterclass, inviting participants to use independent and collective practices to produce drawings, collage and finally sculpture.

“The female body is like an endless sentence that invites us to rearrange it, so that its real meaning becomes clear through a series of endless anagrams…..

……What is at stake here is a totally new unity of form, meaning and feeling: language-images that cannot simply be thought up or written up … They constitute new, multifaceted objects, resembling polyplanes made of mirrors … As if the illogical was relaxation, as if laughter was permitted while thinking, as if error was a way and chance, a proof of eternity.”

Hans Bellmer

Re-appropriating the doll as a post-sculptural device while questioning the ancient figurative tradition in art, Cathie Pilkington’s haunting images and sculptural installations merge the commonplace with the fantastical, the surreal with the familiar. Assemblages of awkwardly mis-matched parts, Pilkington’s work explores the notion and experience of the “self” and the possible existence of multiple identities which are, at times, only precariously held together. Pilkington’s previous work has explored the female experience and image, referencing the grand sculptural cannons of nudes and goddesses and juxtaposing them with domestic objects of toys, ornaments and dummies.

Most recently, Pilkington has created a remarkable series of responses to Degas’ small wax sculptures of dancers, overwriting their voyeuristic naturalism with re-imagined distortion of form. These sculpted ‘dollies’ simultaneously revel in their beauty and strangeness with two-faced heads, impossible anatomies and receptive blankness.

Working in the context of the RA’s Life Room and all the history it evokes, Pilkington’s upcoming installation Life Room: Anatomy of a Doll explores the notion of a busy, inhabited space. There’s a ‘work-in-progress’ nature to the room, with groups of figurative sculptures in various stages of completion and resolution positioned on modelling stands, accompanied by other large dummy-like figures, body fragments and studio equipment.

Over the course of an intensive two-day masterclass, course participants will work within and alongside this installation, a part of it in both space and time. Through their own work, group interaction and discussion and feedback from Pilkington, course participants will explore questions that are raised by her artwork including: a conversation about the problems of figuration in sculpture, the practical and psychological uses of the life model and the role of the statue, the dummy and the doll in visual culture.

Working in situ with Pilkinton’s installation, as well as from life models carefully positioned within the Life Room, Pilkington will lead a uniquely immersive weekend-long practical masterclass. Participants will be encouraged to explore and work with drawing and collage and finally create their own unique sculpture.

Pilkington will introduce her own version of the “Exquisite Corpse” game – a technique used by Surrealist artists to stimulate creativity, innovation and unexpected outcomes through a game of chance. Participants will be asked to reflect upon and challenge their existing pre-conceptions, and work both independently and collaboratively over the two days. This promises to be a truly unique and enriching creative experience.

“I work with lots of different materials and use lots of different processes simultaneously. The work and ideas evolve through the making process so I am interested in what the work does at different stages of its making. I satisfy my desire to make lots of different kinds of work by consciously making some highly finished and others much more provisional and immediate. When something is finished it ‘settles’ in the room.”

Cathie Pilkington RA, 2016

Watch a short video of Cathie Pilkington and her practise, including the installation of her recent sculpture Top Shelf in the Academicians’ Room

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

  • 8 April 2017, 10.30am — 5.30pm
  • 9 April 2017, 10.30am — 5.30pm

The Life Room, RA Schools, Piccadilly

£580. Includes all materials, lunch and wine reception at the end of the second day.