Steven Claydon (UK)

Steven Claydon - Concentric Communicators (Radial Arm Assembly) (2019)
Delirious (2019)
Photography Gert Jan van Rooij

Steven Claydon - Concentric Communicators (Radial Arm Assembly) (2019)

The British artist Steven Claydon (b. 1969) is interested in the life of cultural objects: from their origins as raw materials to artefacts charged with meanings and values that have been constructed and attributed to them throughout the course of history. As part of the process, he poses the question of whether the evolution of things is comparable to the evolution of humans and animals.

By providing old objects with contemporary materials, by combining advanced technologies with traditional craftsmanship, and through his references to modern architecture, mythologies and comic strips, Claydon creates works that give the impression of coming from another dimension, one in which cultures have developed in different constellations and sequences than on Earth. In this way, he challenges historically accepted classifications and qualifications, creating space for new connections.

For DELIRIOUS, Claydon made a sculpture of a laser-cut steel structure to which mask-like sculptures were attached, which could most simply be described as an otherworldly transmission mast or a totem pole. The idea was inspired by his own associations with De Oude Warande.

The layout of the park – the eight main paths form a star, while the paths in the four quadrants have been laid out as geometrical shapes – reminded Claydon both of a radial arm maze, a laboratory instrument that looks like a traffic intersection where eight roads meet and which is used to test the spatial memory of animals, and of a zoetrope, an animation machine that was used in the early years of film and which consisted of a cylinder with vertical slits in the side. Turning the cylinder alternately revealed and concealed the pictures on the inside of the drum, creating the impression of movement.

Claydon also discovered potential forms of concealing and revealing at De Oude Warande. Large numbers of unseen antennas could be hidden in the trees, while other ‘transmitters’ could be found in plain sight at the points where the main paths meet: signposts. In Claydon’s sculpture, which he deliberately placed at a central intersection, the sculpted amulets refer to the spiritual meaning of crossroads in past times. They were provided with talisman figures to bring good fortune. This work by Steven Claydon, too, is just as layered in meaning as it is eclectic in form.