The works and the space appear made for each other as Broadbent's thoughtful meditations on identity are given an ideal environment in which to absorb their many levels of meaning and enjoy the extraordinary intimacy of the works.
Memory, history and the permanence of identity are examined throughout the exhibition. In 11 Tracks, perspex cubes are arranged on a long plinth, each cube filled with soil samples excavated from a walk around the Oxfordshire countryside. Each separate cube has its own identity: the identity of the track, and the people, animals and machinery that have transformed it over the centuries. As we walk around it we are reminded of our part in the transformation of places.
Elsewhere, 100 pulped magazines have been reconstituted as bleached, grey columns standing in a grid formation. Visitors can discover which magazine is which column but the work as a whole is open to endless interpretation and analysis.
Identity cubes is an installation of eight white cubes mounted on plinths. The sides of each cube can be opened to reveal aspects of people’s lives through beautifully crafted models. Indeed, we are the cubes, with our public and private lives, our open and closed sides, our solidity and our fragility.
It is in the making of the works, in their precision, fine detail and imaginative transformation, and in the superb sketchbooks cataloguing the evolution of her work, that Ruth Broadbent shows how a sense of identity and the nature of memory really can be questioned through sculpture. Don’t miss it!