• KAR 01 - Mike Ballard


    01-05-18 - 24.05.18

    KARST launched its new Artist Residency Programme in May 2018 with London-based artist Mike Ballard. Occupying one of KARST's studios, Ballard has spent a month working both within KARST and the wider environment of Plymouth to adapt his urban-based practice to to the character of his new surroundings.

    Ballard's practice is inspired by the abstract compositions found in the urban environment, as well as the territorial gestures that divide public and private space. Taking substance from flaneur style wanderings through cities, Ballard weaves together an accumulative and regenerative language of city infrastructure, patterned by materials such as building site hoardings; the remains of illicit advertising and painted pavement markings.

    Developed over the month long residency, Ballard's new work, entitled 'Laying in the cut', is displayed within the centre of the gallery space. Originally conceived to be exhibited within KARST's lower gallery space where the open shutter door would allow the public free entry and access to explore, Ballard decided over the course of his residency to relocate the sculpture to within KARST's main gallery, shaping it around one of the many supporting pillars. An imposing piece, 'Laying in the cut' engages its surrounding at KARST in a direct dialogue; the recycled hoardings, making a piece both transactional and celebratory in nature, standing proud within the reclaimed space of KARST's gallery.

    'Laying in the cut' is born from the experiences of Ballard's youth, often spent in writing graffiti underneath motorways, train bridges and housing estates. Reflecting the urban architecture and ideas of non-place that these locations, the new sculpture is crafted from building site hoardings sourced from both Plymouth and London; Ballard replaces the wood he takes with new wooden hoardings of his own. Displaying a wealth of surface textures and history, which Ballard refers to as a 'cargo of memories', the hoardings have witnessed the life of the street and are a reflection of the constant transitions within a city.

    Ballard regards this sculpture as his most ambitious piece to date, having been allowed carte blanche to use his residency, and KARSTís gallery space, as he pleases throughout May. The space and time afforded to Ballard to explore and expand his artistic practice has resulted in a powerful sculpture rich in character and history, typifying both Mike's artistic career and the environments that inspire it.