Relations

Gold leaf, enamel, emulsions & crackle glazes on wood
55 x 7.5 x 341 cms
2005

A hand painted shop sign with the inscription 'Gavin Turk' in archaic script de-restored to look old, weather beaten and careworn, as if a relic or piece of junk shop memorabilia.

England as a nation of shopkeepers is a notion attributed to economist Adam Smith and then later to Napoleon who was scathing in his attitude to Britain as a worthy opponent. The artist spent his formative years under the political regime of Margaret Thatcher, herself a daughter of a grocery shop owner, she took on the task of radicalizing the free market and embracing capitalism.

The nostalgia generated by Relations and the other works in the shop sign series reflects a cultural shift from small family run business to global brands more allied to America than to Europe. England is no longer a nation of shopkeepers but factory fodder for corporate consumerism.

The irony of an individualist free-thinking artist being part of a family business is bound up in this paradoxical image. The artist could not have been running the business that the sign implies, his grandparents could perhaps: but then again. They would have sold up long ago. This work suggests that the sign has been found like several other works in the exhibition. A prop from a film found in a junk shop, an accidental readymade, a piece of ephemera rather than the meticulously crafter
artifact that it actually is.

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