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 Wild West

Suky Best and Rory Hamilton

6 May – 19 June 2005

Private view: Friday 6 May 6 – 9 pm

Artists Suky Best and Rory Hamilton have been collaborating on works exploring cowboy films. They have made a series of animated films and printed works based on generic scenes within these narratives. Themes of heroism, the lone stranger putting things right; the anti-hero, cowboys and their leading ladies, and the saloon fight. This exhibition shows work with a strong aesthetic flavour; hand worked, yet graphically clean, using visual stereotypes while exposing their banality and frailty. Flat clear silhouettes replace the dusty blur of the Wild West.

In both the video and print works only the protagonist and/or his companion (be they horse, tracker or love interest) are transcribed onto the finished image. All extraneous detail is removed. When a cowboy ties up a horse and walks into a building, the horse and rider are clearly depicted; the building only exists when the rider walks behind a column or railing: the cowboy defines the world around him. Sections where the hero is out of shot are left blank. The hand drawn nature of the video animations means the artists have decided in every frame how to interpret the cinematic image and what to include or discard. This also exposes the editing and construction of the original footage.

Most of the films show either a transcription of a generic scene or a collection of scenes from several cowboy movies. They were chosen for their universality: narrative events that appear repeatedly in westerns from every era.

The series of printed works are archival inkjet prints with laser-cut vinyls. These are constructed from stills drawn from many films spanning 50 years brought together to make new images. In these the hero is always the cutout figure and other charcters are shown in colours that reflect the mood of the constructed narrative.

Suky Best is an artist working with print, animation and video. She has recently completed a Wellcome trust funded SCIART project, making animations for hospital outpatient areas. And is exhibiting “The Return of the Native”, an exhibition of animation and print, as part of Silicon Fen, a series of commissions by Norwich School of Art & Design and Film & Video Umbrella.

In recent years she has had commissions from: English Heritage (as part of a YOTA/SWA/DA2 project) at Cleeve Abbey in Somerset. Made a 40 second film for “Travellers Tales”, an INIVA Commission. A series of video to print works as part of Dartmoor Insight for AHA/Da2. And was Fellow in Printmaking at the University of Wolverhampton (funded by the Henry Moore Foundation)1998-2000.

Rory Hamilton has worked on digital screen based and installation projects for over ten years. In 2002 he completed the work “Generic Sci-Fi Quarry” (with Jon Rogers) as part of the TV Swansong project. This was a large scale outdoor event using multi-screen projections and specially commissioned sound. He has been a tutor and researcher in Interaction Design at the Royal College of Art for seven years. His research there with Jon Rogers involves Art and Visual Perception and has recently received funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. He has been a keen fan of western movies for many years.


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