Kate Tucker Manifold catalogue essay by Sabina McKenna
’The (Ir)Rationality of Ordered Chaos’
“There is a lineage, in terms of making, that you can observe in the images - putting them on different surfaces and working them back in,” explains Kate Tucker, referring to her latest body of work, Manifold. “I work across numerous mediums and scales simultaneously, so this exhibition is like a group show in that it has one of each thing that I'm doing.”
The walls of Kate’s studio are lined with rows of her artworks. The top shelf is full of colourful ceramics in varying finishes: matte black and brown, shiny pastel pink and off-white, metallic - like the dense aluminium frames of the paintings beneath. Across the various works in the studio, “There's a conversation between surfaces and materials; everything looks a bit like something else - many iterations of one form.”
Tucker’s works combine handcrafted processes with an interest in digital mediums. She creates images digitally; prints them onto calico and linen; cuts, folds, and paints over them; then attaches them to surfaces in layers, building dense edifices. Pulling fabric out of crates, walking over it, throwing it over chairs and surfaces; with many processes going on at once, she mimics the experience of life in the digital age. “Infinite amounts of information; data and images crossing in the air around us all the time”.
“I struggle with that sense of infinite chaos. We all have to curate, edit, and discipline ourselves to create a kind of microcosm that we can make sense of and resolve to make it into a thing that works. With every painting, you see the different choices that were made as I was playing out this process of editing and evaluating, eventually getting to a point where something feels like a genuine statement of now.”
The layers in the works of Manifold are more pronounced than in previous series. They create a ‘time capsule’ of each work’s creation: rather than layering and process being compressed into a timeless singular space, the process remains visible.
Lined up on another working bench, a collection of glazed tiles wait to be arranged on top of dark steel frames that will become plinths for the sculptures in the exhibition. Explaining the differences in colour between the otherwise identical tiles, Tucker tells me that they have been fired in different kilns deliberately, to achieve a unique finish on each. For Tucker the incorporation of ceramics into her practice gives the freedom of working with a medium she is untrained in, it introduces unpredictability. “I want to transfer that ‘flow state’ that engulfs me in the middle of making work into the presentation, to keep that energy alive and infuse it into the exhibition space.”