By Philip Fimmano
“I felt like I was revealing something that had always been there. Something almost prehistoric that had been lost to time, and it was my job to find it again.”
— Faye Toogood
The fragments that are lost and found at archaeological sites provide the foundation for Faye Toogood’s latest collection of sculptural objects; forms and materials that have first been lost from view, and then reclaimed, like forgotten artefacts dredged up from a peat bog. The designer’s idiosyncratic aesthetic is again excavated in this impressive body of new work, referred to as Assemblage 7, and which is made up of tables, a desk and seating, realised in oak and marble through subtractive carving techniques. The oak is stained with shellac; post-fossil in its physicality but finished like eighteenth-century English furniture.
Sculpting maquettes from blocks from wax and clay is the starting point for Toogood. The names of the resulting pieces — Plot, Barrow, Cairn, Mound — evoke the remnants of medieval Britain, when standing stones shaped by man and time stood exposed as powerful totems. The landscape is brought to the fore by chiselling out ripples on the objects’ surface or polishing the Purbeck marble Toogood has used, bringing to light the ancient shells embedded within its limestone base. That Purbeck marble was traditionally used in ecclesiastical buildings adds a spiritual layer to this material for Toogood.
The garments that Erica Toogood cuts are just as sturdy as Faye’s furniture. She too is a sculptor, and the flat pattern is her slab. Made in a limited edition in collaboration with her sister, the workwear shapes have been hand-painted in red tin brown, blue and green — the colours of the rural British landscape where they grew up, but also of the Arts and Crafts movement — adding a swirl of botanical beauty to the pair’s archaeological expedition. These cotton canvas smocks take on utilitarian patch pockets and variations in length: a buttoned shirt, a jacket and work coat, atop a pair of pants. Expressive brushstroke hues that are layered like geological stratigraphy; alluvial, murky, sedimentary, and breaking ground in every sense.