Spike Island, Bristol | Artists Edition
to coincide with the exhibition “Spring Rain” at Spike Island, Bristol, 26 January to 31 March 2013
The object is a cast by lost wax technique in solid brass, taken from a gherkin grown from seed by the artist during the summer of 2012. Similar to the components in Beasley’s mobile Spring Rain, this edition of additional casts have been made exclusively for Spike Island. The diminutive sculptures are the only available additional casts outside of those integral to the large mobile and are Beasley’s first cast work.
The works came about as a result of seeing Marcel Duchamp’s small, hand-sized cast works made later in his career as a result of an intimate relationship with a female artist who taught him the process. Brass is used in hardware, often remaining polished simply by regular handling. The artist intends the edition to be ambiguous, but encourages them to be regularly handled through domestic use in some way, as a bathroom light pulley, for example.
The gherkin as subject comes from Beasley’s interest in Lawrence Sterne’s canonical 18th century novel, Tristram Shandy, in particular scenes in Volume 5 in which sash window lead weights are removed to be recast as lead soldiers for a garden war reenactment, resulting in baby Tristram being inadvertently circumcised by sash window. Historically a staple of Jewish cuisine, the gherkin becomes a comic stand-in. In 18th century England, there was much debate about circumcision in relation both to hygiene and anti-Semitism. The marriage of Beasley’s Catholic brother and her Jewish sister-in-law produced her beloved nephew, Ben, who is by maternal lineage Jewish, and whose body dimensions feature as the larger of the two small hanging parts in the mobile, Spring Rain.