Rachel Goodyear: Muzzles and Murmurs

6 June - 5 July 2014 Main Space

Pippy Houldsworth Gallery is delighted to present Rachel Goodyear’s third solo show with the gallery, Muzzles and Murmurs, from 6 June to 5 July 2014. Using familiar yet incongruous images within her work, Rachel Goodyear’s intricately rendered drawings explore the macabre undertones of human existence.


Whilst retaining the precision of her smaller drawings, the artist has increased the size of the paper she uses for the show in order to accommodate for more complex narratives. Discussing the work in the exhibition, Goodyear explains: ‘With these works I have tried not to lose any intricacy of detail, despite there being an expanse of content and size.’ Alongside these, Goodyear has made a body of smaller drawings which feature core elements from the larger works, using them as case studies for the larger compositions.


Within the large works, persistent trees push their way up the picture plane, snagging anything in their wake as they burgeon upwards. Significantly, Goodyear uses these plants to anchor her compositions, populating their branches with an array of sinister characters and animals who balance precariously on the boughs. The pairs of trees in Mandrake and Snagged Souls bow together to form a sort of rudimentary stage, drawing the viewer’s attention to the masked protagonist sheltered beneath.


Discussing her work in the show, Goodyear explains that she is particularly fascinated by the fact that ‘gravity has no limits when projecting an imaginary world onto paper.’ Slender tendrils poke their way through garments and flesh, holding figures in suspension as if seemingly weightless. Defying gravity, delicate branches support the weight of cross-legged figures and large, cumbersome animals such as muzzled bears and splayed horses. This preoccupation with weightlessness is also pursued in several of the smaller works which feature in the exhibition. For instance, in Young Hypnotists, an upturned horse, seemingly mesmerised, levitates backwards through a red hoop held in place by two, ghostly schoolboys.


Renowned for her monochrome drawings, this body of work also sees Goodyear incorporate vibrant washes of red watercolour in order to accentuate a particular action or object. For example, in Duelling, Goodyear’s use of red serves to exacerbate the conflict between the two, horned figures engaged in combat by drawing our attention to their rutting heads. In addition, in Petticoats, the artist has dyed the fabric of the female protagonists’ dresses a deep shade of bloody crimson.


Adjacent to the new body of work, Thought Spill is an amalgamation of intricate sketches (usually hidden away in notebooks or on scraps of paper in the artist’s studio) depicting peculiar, self-contained scenarios. Exhibited in 2013 as part of the Curitiba Biennial, this is the first time this group of works has been shown in London. Noticeably looser than the other works in the show, the raw nature of the drawings alludes to a private, erratic activity of noting down ideas before they fade away. Each drawing is a piece in its own right, but the images begin to take on new meaning when they are positioned in relation to one another. Displayed in a dense cluster, this particular work serves to demonstrate the intensity of Goodyear’s thought processes as she works.


Rachel Goodyear had a major solo exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, 2011-2012, accompanied by a 116-page hardback publication, and she participated in the Curitiba Biennale, Brazil, 2013. She has recently been part of group shows at Museum Folkwang Essen; ICA, London; Tate Liverpool; The Drawing Room, London; Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden; Collective Gallery, Edinburgh; Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester; Contemporary Art Society, London; Cornerhouse, Manchester; ME Collectors Room, Berlin; Leeds City Art Gallery; Neue Galerie, Innsbruck and Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. In 2013, the artist undertook a residency at Flux Factory, New York. A forthcoming solo project is planned for 2015 with The Drawing Center, NY.


Goodyear’s work is represented in international collections including the Olbricht Collection, Essen; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Progressive Art Collection, Ohio; West Collection, Pennsylvania; Whitworth Museum & Art Gallery, Manchester; Colecção Madeira Corporate Services; Victoria & Albert Museum, London and Museum Folkwang, Essen.