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Photograph shows an installation in gallery 2, with natural light. Stright ahead on the back wall is patterned wall coverings with orange blocks in a grid on a greaty background. Sheets of metal painted white hang from the ceiling overhead. On the floor ahead of us at the back are cast bricks. To the left is a black long strip of rubber leading to the auxiliary space.

Kate V Robertson

This Mess is Kept Afloat

9 December 2017 - 25 February 2018

Kate V Robertson’s first solo exhibition in a UK institution presented a major installation of new sculptural work that drew our attention not only to the walls, but to the floor, ceiling and windows of our most expansive gallery space at DCA.

Photograph taken close to the floor, looking along the surface of several cast bricks laid out on the floor in a grid. The brick closest to the camera is crushed.

Robertson is known for creating environments and displays that often transform and shift over time. Rigorously exploring her chosen materials and the ways in which they can change, Robertson revels in the physical characteristics of the objects she creates, testing their structural qualities to their limits and uncovering what lies at their material core. Ideas of instability, dysfunction, waste and decay pervade her work, particularly in relation to how we experience these sensations in urban environments.

In this new body of work Robertson focused on the use of rectangular shapes across different surfaces, playing with the appearance of depth often created by optical illusions and geometric designs. These formal concepts hint at patterns and configurations associated with city spaces, while also specifically referencing the flatness and groundlessness of our increasingly screen-based lives.

Photograph shows a close up of crushed materials in brownish pinkish fragments.

This Mess is Kept Afloat thoughtfully disrupted the ways in which we engage with sculpture, deliberately muddying the waters of the pristine white cube gallery by drawing in and amplifying certain aspects of the outside world. Robertson deftly combined ideas of the external and internal in this exhibition to create a conceptually intricate and sensually rich experience for anyone willing to cross the threshold.

Artist Interview | Andrew Lacon on Fragments and Kate V Robertson on This Mess is Kept Afloat

Close up of small cast brick-like objects laid on the floor in a grid.

About the artist

Kate V Robertson (b. 1980, Edinburgh) is based in Glasgow, having studied at Glasgow School of Art, graduating in 2003 and completing a MFA there in 2009. Recent exhibitions of her work and projects include: Object(hood), Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh 2017; Semper Vigilantes, OBJECT / A, Manchester 2016; Semper Solum, Oxford House, as part of Glasgow International 2016;  Adaptive Expectations, BALTIC 39, Newcastle, 2016; In Progress, Patricia Fleming Projects, 2014. She has participated in residencies at Hospitalfield, Arbroath; Eastside Projects, Birmingham; CCA, Glasgow; and Chateau de Sacy, France. She is represented by Patricia Fleming Projects, Glasgow.

Robertson has also undertaken several public art commissions, including converse for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and a forthcoming permanent work in Peterhead. After co-curating and designing the exhibition Reclaimed: the Second Life of Sculpture, for Glasgow International 2014, she is currently researching new models of commissioning and collecting sculpture, funded by Henry Moore Foundation.

This Mess is Kept Afloat was supported by Outset. 

Exhibition images

Photograph shows a series  of hanging works as part of an installation. Black and white sheets of metal are suspended from the ceiling.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A series of cast bricks is shown laid out on the floor in a grid, either side of a long black strip of rubber in the centre of the image, made from car tyre.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
Photograph showing an installation including cast bricks laid out on the floor, and an orange and grey blue wall paper.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A series of hanging works of art, consisting of black and white pieces of metal.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A wide installation photograph showing gallery 2, with many cast brick-like objects laid on the floor in a grid in the foreground, and a series of works suspended from the ceiling consisting of black and white metal sheets.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A series of hanging objects, white in colour, including metal sheets.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
Photograph shows an installation in gallery 2, with natural light. Stright ahead on the back wall is patterned wall coverings with orange blocks in a grid on a greaty background. Sheets of metal painted white hang from the ceiling overhead. On the floor ahead of us at the back are cast bricks. To the left is a black long strip of rubber leading to the auxiliary space.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.