Highly regarded in her homeland of Norway, ‘If ever there were…’ is Vanessa Baird’s first solo exhibition in the UK.
Baird’s charged works in pastel and watercolour range from room-size murals to intimate self-portraits and draw on a wide range of references from the artist’s own lived experiences, as well as Scandinavian folklore.
Her extraordinary drawings depict ‘her world’, centred on the house that she grew up in and still inhabits with her three teenage children and elderly mother, for whom she acts as carer.
Baird captures the difficult everyday tasks of looking after a family in a kaleidoscope of startling imagery, permeated with exhaustion, boredom, frustration, bodily functions and the chaotic detritus of domestic life.
Whilst rooted in the autobiographical, her work equally references wider concerns, from fairy tales and legends, to the international politics of the European refugee crisis; these all feed into uncompromising images underpinned with a dark, often disturbing humour that is both confidential and confrontational.
Featuring texts by Gillian Fox (independent curator), Anita Haldemann (Head of the Department of Prints and Drawings and Deputy Director at Kunstmuseum Basel), and Mary Doyle (Co-Director of Drawing Room).
Published on the occasion of the exhibition at Drawing Room, London (13 November 2020 – 24 January 2021).