Hew Locke: Beyond the Sea Wall

10 October - 22 November 2014

Hales Gallery is delighted to announce Beyond the Sea Wall, Hew Locke's fourth solo exhibition with the gallery. The show will comprise of new painting and sculpture, where Locke explores and connects ideas of past and present, good and bad fortune, and memories of his childhood in Guyana.


The title of the show – Beyond the Sea Wall – refers to the 280-mile long wall which runs along the Guyanese coastline protecting the inland villages, most of which are situated below sea level, from flooding. The flood is a metaphor for the cyclicality of life and fluidity in one’s good fortune, while the wall refers to barriers, protection and seclusion. In this poetic way Locke evokes the image of a mythical place, a precious memory for the artist. Transporting the viewer through these memories are bejewelled sculptures of boats, featured in the show and named after various bodies of water, creeks, lakes and seas.


The exhibition features a series of new painted photographs, the original images taken by Locke during his trip to Guyana in 2013. To the artist’s surprise, the traditional wooden houses, which he last saw some time ago in pristine condition, were now deserted and neglected. Economic factors, such as the rising prices for timber (these days most of Guyanese timber is exported for sale overseas) as well as big floods, both contributed to this ruination. Locke describes seeing the decay of these beautiful houses, which he once dreamed of living in, as seeing his childhood fall apart – an emotional and symbolic moment.


Time, fortune, history and change – Locke’s exploration of these concepts continues also in the ongoing series of painted share certificates. He uses original shares and bonds as a means of not just looking at history and its unpredictability, but also as a way of exploring politics, economy and culture. These paper relics, which often refer to now defunct or bankrupt companies, once represented fortunes. Now most of them, like the wooden houses in the Guyanese countryside, are remnants of the past in the constantly shifting economic landscape.


Hew Locke (b. Edinburgh, UK, 1959) spent his formative years (1966-1980) in Guyana before returning to the UK to complete an MA in sculpture at the Royal College of Art (1994). Locke’s works have been included in The Folkestone Triennial (2011), the 54th and 55th Venice Biennale (2011, 2013), Deptford X (2012, participating artist curator). In 2014 Locke’s work will be featured in Prospect New Orleans Contemporary Art Biennial (New Orleans, LA, USA).  


Selected shows include  National Portrait Gallery (London), El Museo de Bario (New York),  Fondation Clément (Martinique), The Bell House (Prague), Kunsthal KAdE (Netherlands), Tate Britain (London), V&A Museum (London), The New Art Gallery (Walsall), Rivington Place (London), The Bluecoat Gallery (Liverpool), The British Museum (London), The New Art Exchange (Nottingham), The Luckman Gallery (LA), The New York Museum of Art and Design (New York), Atlanta Contemporary Arts (US), The Brooklyn Museum (New York), Perez Art Museum Miami (FL, USA).  In 2010 Locke's work, Sikandar, was shortlisted for the Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square (London).


Locke's work is represented in many collections including The Government Art Collection (UK), Miami Art Museum (US), The Tate Gallery (UK), The Arts Council of England (UK), Collections of Eileen Harris Norton and Peter Norton, Santa Monica (US), The Brooklyn Museum (New York), The Arnold Lehman Collection (US), The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (US), Kansas City Collection (US), The RSID Museum (Rhode Island), The New Art Gallery (Walsall), The Victoria & Albert Museum Drawing Collection (London), The British Museum (London) and The Henry Moore Institute (Leeds).

Installation Views