Public Art



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BUILD : Lisa Traxler x Surface Matter x London Design Festival 2017

16 September to 14 October 2017
Surface Matter, 29 Westgate Street, London E8 3RL

BUILD is an immersive installation by Artist Lisa Traxler housed in the Surface Matter materials studio in London Fields. Materials meet art, informed by architecture in a visual narrative heavy with the echo of history. Lisa Traxler RWS MRBS, is a contemporary visual artist, living and working in Britain. She combines painting and 3D form responding to landscape and architectural spaces.

BUILD is Traxler’s most resent body of work reacting to a specific historical site, a former WWII Radar Bunker on the Isle of Wight. Holding a great deal of significance to the Island’s heritage community, the bunker was the former Royal Air Force radar station, ideally positioned to monitor the south coast of Britain during WWII as part of the Chain Home network. After its service, from 1941 until it became non- operational in 1947, the Radar Bunker was left to deteriorate and become derelict.

In BUILD, Traxler creates an environmental autobiography – a sense of self and place intimately connected.The territory around the Bunker is undulating and restless, ragged outcrops of gorse alongside craggy, weatherworn stone pushing through the land. Traxler plays with the notions of encrypted communication between landscape and architectural space utilising the durable material steel more commonly used in construction to investigate this decryption puzzle.

BUILD tours the Penwith Gallery, St. Ives 26 May to 24 June, Surface Matter, London 16 September to 14 October and The Bunker, St. Lawrence, IOW 23 October to 6 November. BUILD in conjunction with Surface Matter is part of the Maker Mile Route for London Design Festival, 16 to 24 September 2017.


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'THE BEAUTY CHORUS'. 2017 Vitreous Enamelled Steel Sculptures

Eight vitreous enamel and steel constructions titled ‘The Beauty Chorus’, which is borrowed from the unofficial name given to the bank of contrasting coloured secret telephones linking Churchill’s underground headquarters at Whitehall to control rooms around the nation intercepting information and scrambling messages. It also honours the female pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary, known informally as the Beauty Chorus during WWII.

Heavy with this echo of history the geometric shapes within Traxler’s steel structures look to have been lifted from the blueprint of a technical drawing documenting a secret architectural design. Lightly interlocking and carefully constructed,these fragmented compositions are slotted together, each piece interacting with its neighbour. The cut edges of the steel function as lines in space interplaying with the mark making on the surface. This cryptographic drawing referencing dazzle camouflage and radar, the hidden messages of warfare.

The vitreous enamel on steel works are designed and hand painted by Traxler and fabricated by A.J. Wells & Sons on the Isle of Wight.

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Drawn and stitched PAPERSCAPES

1,292 A4 laser copied images stitched together, swooping, soaring as if in flight. The nature of paper and fine thread drawing through the space creating sculptural forms. These ethereal sewn paper pieces represent thought processes, personal memories, tethered in place before they disappear from recollection - the images repeat, as memories do, stills from a black and white movie of life. The abstracted images are based on archival reference into WWI Dazzle Camouflage and echo notions of recall and occurrence.


Solid Paper Composite, Site Specific, Dimensions Variable

Further materials are explored in BUILD, the site specific Ascension Echo transforms discarded off-cuts from a solid paper composite staircase designed by Traxler to create this ethereal landscape. Shards and splinters, geometric forms, displacement and unease, mark making in the three dimensional. The original staircase design again referencing the disguise and disruption of dazzle camouflage and brutalist architecture.

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'HIDE + SEEK’. 2017Sheet Vinyl, 216m x 575m
The exterior glass of the Surface Matter studio is clad in a disruptive designed sheet vinyl. Cut-out silhouettes play with the implementation of Dazzle.

‘Dazzle’ was originated by Lieutenant-Commander Norman Wilkinson, who argued that if a ship could be broken up into strongly contrasted design, her course could not be observed without longer periscope observation and even still not exactly. This uncertainty might delay enemy fire until the ship had obtained a chance of escape. The Dazzle aesthetic impacted the modern art movements of Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism and has been adopted internationally by the major navies, evolving into a more defined ‘disruptive’ camouflage by the Second World War.

Lisa Traxler RWS MRBS, is an award-winning contemporary visual artist. Her abstract art traverses the two and three dimensional divide and links the disciplines of painting and sculpture. Her solo exhibition, BUILD is touring the Penwith Gallery in St. Ives, alongside the Surface Matter Materials Gallery for The London Design Festival and finishing at the source of response, a WWII Radar Bunker on the Isle of Wight in October 2017.

Surface Matter love materials. Innovative materials. Translucent materials. Strong and recycled materials. Materials that make you go, 'WOW'. They work closely with some of the most exciting materials out there, helping creatives push the boundaries of architecture and design. With a deep understanding of the possibilities and limitations of materials, they bridge the gap between the people who make materials and the people who create with materials.