Hubert Duprat: Caddis, Crystal and Company
14th May – 29th August 2011
Hubert Duprat: Caddis, Crystal and Company was the first UK solo exhibition of the work of Hubert Duprat. One of the major figures of his generation, Duprat has shown nationally and internationally for over twenty years. Emerging as an artist in the early 1980s, Duprat’s output has taken many different forms. His work derives from disciplines and historical precedents that are both combined with and often opposed to issues around modernity and conceptualism. Referencing archaeology, architecture, science, craft and art history his sculptures and installations are rooted in research yet are often imbued with a playful undertone.
Duprat’s best known but rarely shown work with caddis fly larvae was one of the many highlights of the exhibition. For this work, Duprat observed the insects’ particular habit of building cases from nearby objects - such as pebbles and twigs. Duprat collected the larvae from their natural environment, relocated them to his studio and placed them in temperature controlled water tanks. He then provided the larvae with miniature pieces of gold and different precious stones - turquoise, opals, pearls, rubies and diamonds. On entering the exhibition space, visitors witnessed the larvae, who themselves measure only 2-3mm engaged in their miniature but miraculous labour.
In addition the exhibition included a selection of Duprat’s enchanting sculptures that include animal heads carved from flint that reference early image making and shadow casting; a work made from coral that confuses the line between the artificial and the man made as well as sculptures made from pyrite and calcite crystal.
The winner of this year’s Tate Art Shorts – a short film was been made on the artist that includes a rare interview along with footage of the caddis at work to uploaded to the site shortly.
The exhibition was curated by Harriet Loffler, Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, Norwich Castle. A fully illustrated catalogue, the first publication in English devoted to the work of Hubert Duprat, accompanied the exhibition with contributions from Stephen Bann, Guillaume Désenges and Martin Herbert.
The exhibition was accompanied by an extensive public programme, as well as an international conference in collaboration with the Open University and Cambridge University on Contemporary Art & Alchemy on 3rd & 4th June 2011. Speakers included Stephen Bann, Brian Dillon, Alyce Mahon, Gill Perry among others.
The exhibition and accompanying programme was kindly supported by Arts Council England, Henry Moore Foundation, French Cultural Institute, Institut Français, Norfolk Contemporary Art Society, Open University, Cambridge University, East Anglia Art Fund, British Academy
The watercolour gallery is amazing, the colours are so fresh. For someone living in Manchester I did not realise what an extensive collection of pictures you have.