Grace Woodcock: 23.5°

9 October - 9 December 2023

Woodcock’s sculptures are instruments for taking notice. They give tangible form to gravitational and orbital forces, recalibrating our perception of what it means to exist on a planet rotating in space. 

The exhibition’s title 23.5° references the axial tilt of the Earth. This angle is drifting and Earth’s rotation is accelerating as melting glaciers and groundwater extraction is shifting the balance of the planet. At some level can we sense the pace of our orbit increasing, can we feel ourselves spinning on a new axis?

The gallery and each sculpture outside of two ‘barometers’, subscribe to this through tilting exactly 23.5°. It's in these simple but effective sculptural gestures that Woodcock’s work imparts a sensual ‘gut feeling’ of what are complex scientific shifts in the universe. 

Woodcock softens these concepts in sculptures that allude to different aspects of the body. Composed of fabric stretched over wooden structures solidified through layers of primer and oil paint, the sculptures are exercises in perception. The hardened shells obliquely reference familiar ‘wearables’ such as shoes and a helmet, while others grapple with more abstract understandings of the systems of the body: what it means to digest or to inhale and expel breath. 


Across the installation are references to alternative forms of measuring. Radial wave lines on the surface of sculptures allude to tidal, circadian or electromagnetic rhythms. Curves and nodes take on a symbolic edge where ‘12’ repeats across pieces, referencing the ancient Sumerian method of counting and recording time which used the number of knuckles on one hand.

Woodcock’s wider practice draws on the intersections between biology and science fiction. The artist’s work speaks to 1960’s New Wave speculative literature by J.G. Ballard and Stanisław Lem which play out how society would respond to alternate temporal realities. Woodcock’s perception however is more curious than dire, probing us to take notice of larger forces at play.

Text by Daisy Silver