cellophane . paint . hair gel . shampoo . glass . cling film . body moisturiser . sellotape . paint . sugar paper . chalk . paint . concealer stick . foundation . fake tan . sugar paper . chalk . ribbon . hair gel . nail vanish . plater . paint . petroleum jelly . polythene . rubber gloves . cellophane . sellotape . paint . soap . body moisturiser . toothpaste . cling film . cif cream . nail varnish . fabric dye powder . cellophane . paint . sellotape . thread . sugar paper . chalk . thread . polythene . plaster powder . powder paint . thread . plaster powder . powder paint . sugar paper . chalk . concealer stick . sawdust . powder paint .  

“Just because something is an object now doesn’t mean it always was or always will be. That fascinates me.”

Karla Black

these are just some of the materials karla uses for her sculptures, or what she calls ‘almost-objects’. while innovative in the context of sculptures, these materials draw a certain familiarity in the speculators as well as intuitively link metaphoric connotations with the artwork. the quality of karla’s work and the materials she uses has led to an array of descriptions that associates the female gender with weaknesses. “It’s very worrying to hear people say words like fragile, impermanent, ephemeral and then label those things as female – that’s a great insult.” stresses the artist.

while the public may have interpreted karla’s work in a different light, the prime interest of the artist is not the connotations that some of the materials carries, such as nail vanish and concealer that may be symbolic for vanity or femininity, but the colour and texture of the material itself, as well as capturing the moment of creativity. “I’m trying to make sure the base, raw, creative moment is there. The heart of the work is experimentation with materials, colour, a certain formlessness, and a handmade intimacy. I’m not interested in the meaning of it. I don’t even understand that question.”

conventional artwork may be an autonomous object that can be moved from place to place but they lack a certain element that karla tries to capture – the in-between state and the compromise between living creativity and its boundaries.

latest exhibition: Structure & Material
full interview: The Scotsman


Karla Black has just been nominated for the Turner Prize.
Next month she will represent Scotland at the Venice Biennale.
She will also feature in the British Art Show.