Hew Locke, artist behind The Jurors at Runnymede
Hew Locke’s work varies from large-scale wall bead hangings through to small-scale, layered drawings. The most dominant strand of ideas are the artist’s appropriation of the emblems of power: portraits of royalty, coats of arms, public statues, share certificates. These are reproduced, and added to, using all manner of embellishment and ornament. Coats of Arms are remade in strings of beads, royal portraits rendered in plastic flowers and jewellery, also used to adorn photographs of statues.
The embellishment and decorative aspects of Hew’s work is often the result of layering different time periods: centuries-old coats of arms are re-imagined in the cheap throwaway materials of modern life such as market-stall jewellery; share certificates from old, now defunct companies are transformed by the artist revealing another aspect to the company’s finances.
" Queen Elizabeth, coats of arms and trophies of colonial power, Hew Locke’s work is festooned with the icons of British hierarchy all reproduced Archimboldo-style out of the carefully placed plastic stuff of global commerce"
Hew Locke is fascinated by history and how events of the past are recalled and represented today, making him an astute choice for the Runnymede public art commission. He was born in Scotland in 1959 and was brought up from an early age in Guyana until he returned to the UK in 1980. In Guyana, a former colony and newly independent Commonwealth country, he grew up surrounded by images of Queen Elizabeth II and other symbols of British colonial power. His use of these images appears to be as much about adorning and celebrating them, as it is about re-imaging and perhaps critiquing their power.