Edwina Ashton

Warm Hand of History, 2007, digital C-type still from video

The video works of Edwina Ashton document performances in which fantastical characters pursue repetitive, every-day actions to tragic-comic effect. Dressed in grotesque costumes that draw to mind associations of animals and insects, both friendly and frightening, Ashton hides the identity of her performers to focus our attention on what they are doing. Just as in the natural world we might watch the absurd efforts of an ant struggling to transport an object twice its size, we watch Ashton’s costumed characters over-whelmed by attempts at childish actions such as throwing hoops over a post at a distance or undertaking tasks such as ironing or window-cleaning. As the video unfolds we are struck by the ineffectual quality of the performer’s actions leading to a sense of enclosed desperation. This sensation is rapidly superseded by hilarity as repetition creates comic effect, before we finally recognise how the action conforms to every-day activities revealing a glimpse of the tragic-comic nature of mundane existence.

Prepared for everything, 2008, coloured pencil & pen on paper, 14×21 cm

Saturday at ole Cobby’s, 2008, watercolour & pen on painted wallpaper, 12×12 cm

New unusual & ready to go, 2008, watercolour & pen on paper, 25×28 cm

Edwina Ashton lives and works in London. She obtained her first degree in philosophy at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge before pursuing a year’s Fine Art Foundation at Camberwell College of Art, London and a degree in Fine Art at Goldsmith’s College, London. She has had major solo exhibitions at Arnolfini, Bristol (2003), MoCA, Miami (2004), Peer, London (2005) and Camden Arts Centre, London (2006). Edwina Ashton is also represented by Works|Projects, Bristol. She will be at Tate Britain in the exhibition Rude Britannia: British Comic Art from June 2010.