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HEW LOCKE
Image of The Prize
The Prize (part of The Rivington Place Portfolio)  
2007 76 x 51 x 13cm
Plastic items collaged onto 3D silk-screen and digital print
Treasury

"Locke is best known as a sculptor and The Prize takes editioned work on paper to a new level of complexity. He scoured the local urban streets for kitsch plastic toys and decorations, which were then scanned into preliminary images, which in turn were cut up and woven into this three dimensional piece. The toys and decorations ranged from daggers and Kalashnikov rifles to yellow roses and black dolls, of the kind that have become the hallmark of Locke’s recent low relief sculptures. The final piece was additionally embelished with actual plastic flowers and beads.

"Locke’s materials engage with the legacy of Imperialism; most specifically that of British imperialism of the 19th century, but one can of course extrapolate far beyond this to the impact of global corporations and other forms of capitalist oppression, covert or overt. Deeply witty while deeply disturbing, they are glitteringly iconic reminders of the far-reaching effects of our trade and other intercourse with colonized places, whether in material goods or culture.

"Reflecting on Locke’s title for this piece, we can link it with the idea of trophy – bringing back something which indisputably identifies one as having conquered – the head of the wild stag or tiger nailed to your wall indicates capture and total control – not to mention slaughter. Locke said he had become interested in the idea of prizes and the way they are distributed now –the idea that everyone has to be a winner, and the palpable insubstantiality of this piece – paper thin - speaks to the demeaned status of prizes.

"Additionally, Locke sees the prize as an idea about power - who has it, who wants it. At first he titled the piece Midas - reflecting the idea of the sickness of a society where only money – or having more of it than anyone else - counted; then it became Chalice, reflecting perhaps Locke’s inspiration in the Church Plate galleries of the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as the notion of ‘poisoned’ chalice.

"Finally fixing on The Prize as a label, Locke reminds us both of the essential hollowness of trophies and, through the very facture of the piece, the complexity of ‘prize’ as an idea. The daring originality and complexity of the piece, both in its physical structure, its language and its message truly reflects the nature of the project itself. It also represents a collaborative tour de force which demonstrates what you can do when you have master printer Randy Hemminghaus at the Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper to work with."

Rosie Miles, formerly Curator Word & Image department, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Click here for a two-part video of Hew Locke talking about The Prize

 
All images © Hew Locke & DACS unless otherwise indicated