Debbie Lawson graduated from the Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins. Her work is held in the following collections: The Saatchi Gallery, The House of Lords, Nottingham Castle Museum, Mario Testino, The University of the Arts London, The University of Dundee and many others in the UK and worldwide.
Solo shows include the Fergusson Prize: Magic Carpet at the Fergusson Gallery, Perth; Our House at the McManus Galleries, Dundee, supported by the Scottish Arts Council; Living Rooms at Nordisk Kunst Plattform, Norway, supported by the British Council; and Chairway To Heaven at the Economist Plaza, London, commissioned by the Contemporary Art Society.
Recent exhibitions include the 250th Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, where her work was selected by curator/artist Grayson Perry RA as the star of the show (video), The Ruskin Prize at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield; and Eccentric Spaces at Riccardo Costantini Gallery, Turin. Her commissioned sculpture for the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail raised £20,000 at auction for the Archie Foundation's Tayside Children's Hospital Appeal.
She was born in Dundee, and lives and works in London.
Debbie Lawson's work takes the form of a series of episodes that invite the viewer on a journey through the landscape of the domestic interior, where popular narratives and personal histories are intertwined so that the imaginary and material reality seem inseparable. Visual codes collide, giving form to new animated hybrids with a quietly sinister inner life and aspirations to be bigger than themselves.
At the heart of the work is a focus on the cultural traditions surrounding everyday objects – specifically those found in the aspirational home. And although it may look elaborate, the impetus behind the work comes from a stripped-down idea of sculpture: the patterned carpet she uses as an outer surface emphasises the innate qualities of form while at the same time disrupting them so that it appears to alternate between three dimensions and two, creating a visual slippage.
Her interest in seeing the monumental through the prism of the small-scale or domestic comes from a preoccupation with the picaresque, a specific form of narrative where the central protagonist, a seemingly naive and unassuming character, embarks on a series of episodic adventures, seeing through the apparently innocuous to expose hidden, and often darker, or stranger, meanings.
'The Scottish-born multimedia artist creates a variety of work — from a set of chairs dancing the can-can to wood panelling imbued with scenes of intimacy — but perhaps none quite so striking as her tapestries, to which Lawson has affixed the heads and sometimes full bodies of various fauna. The effect is Magic Eye-esque: stand in front of the work and the beast, be it a bear or a stag, all but disappears; move slightly to the right or left and the animal reveals itself in three dimensions.'
Rebecca Tucker, The National Post (Canada), January 2015
‘The heady incense air of Arabian Nights seeps in as one feels seduced into playful reverie. Anything that infiltrates the safe realms of the family home with hints of unpredictable and uncontrollable spirit is bound to transport us directly back to childhood daydreams.’
Robert Clark, The Guardian (UK), November 2013
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