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Lou Baker

My practice spans sculpture, performance and social engagement. Some aspects investigate the transformation of materials, some focus on making connections between communities and everything is knitted together with performative elements. Making ideas visible by synthesising material, process and concept, I make public things that are normally private and provoke a range of conflicting responses - attraction, repulsion, horror and hilarity. I graduated with First Class Honours in Drawing and Applied Arts at UWE, Bristol in 2015. I was awarded the Embroiderers’ Guild Scholarship that year and Bath Spa University’s Harbutt Fund in 2021. I live in Bristol, UK.


Instagram: @loubakerartist


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Artist Statement

Balanced between form and formlessness, Lou Baker’s sculptural ensembles are fragmented, changeable, precarious, unravelling. Her carefully curated, walk-through, immersive installations inhabit the ambiguous spaces between a number of binaries - self/other, embodiment/disembodiment, public/private, masculine/feminine, absence/presence, comfort/discomfort and, ultimately, life and death. Boundaries provide certainty; considering them as thresholds acknowledges them as flexible. This leads to disquiet and provokes a range of conflicting responses (Douglas).


Baker makes visible this tension of opposites and an ongoing struggle for balance. Jung’s individuation, a process of finding meaning in life, involves balancing our multiple selves with the dark side, or shadow, of our self. Failure to acknowledge this shadow can result in fragmentation and associated mental health issues. It’s ultimately a preparation for death. Freud’s uncanny locates strangeness at the border between the familiar and the unfamiliar; Kristeva claims that the abject exists within these margins too, defining the self by creating a boundary between self and other. The sublime causes discomfort as well, by destabilising the boundaries that humans create to make sense of the world (Baird).


Baker’s assemblages embody a range of complex ideas, knitting together materiality, process, meaning and critical thought with form, colour, surface and mode of installation. Making is thinking. Labour-intensive, repetitive processes induce Csikszentmihalyi’s flow, a state of meditative timelessness which leads to a deep and different way of thinking; the labour of performative making leaves traces of the form and force of her body in her work. Her research into the transformation and synthesis of materials, the change in control brought about by processes of alchemy and the sculptural and mark-making potential of her intentionally sloppy craft challenge conventional representations of the body (Paterson and Surette). Transgressive yet playful, she creates an uneasy tension in aesthetics, evoking a bodily presence with notions of absence and the abject.

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