"Hodes has a sympathetic attitude towards the vicissitudes of being female but her work is not polemical, it is quietly subversive. What strikes one most – and what gives the work its playful power – is that what she grants her women through her art, is freedom." - Kate Kellaway, journalist, The Observer
A leading figure in contemporary art, Charlotte Hodes’ work profiles her long-standing engagement with the boundaries between the fine and decorative arts. Hodes draws on craft processes, but uses these to create imagery firmly situated within the language of fine art, bringing her considerable experience as a painter to both her extraordinarily intricate papercuts and large-scale installations in which ceramic ware serves as her alternative canvas.
The female figure is Hodes’ pivotal motif, an elusive but ever-present silhouette emerging from or blending into backdrops of tactile pattern and vibrant colour. The woman that wanders through Hodes’ work is nonetheless a disruptive force, refusing her given role as decorative feature to take ownership of her environment and reclaim her autonomy.
"In Charlotte’s pictures the pattern does not stay within the outline. It overlaps and takes on an existence of its own" Paula Rego
Hodes’ ideas are embedded within drawing and the collage process. The densely worked surfaces of her collages make visible the often invisible labour of women and her signature technique is rooted in feminine artistic activities such as tapestry, embroidery, quilting. But where collage is frequently sourced from existing material, Hodes is unique in that she prints and paints her own material. Hodes' use of the scalpel blade as a drawing tool is another defining feature, and through this meticulous process of cut and paste she assembles images that are both subtle and complex. Unafraid to disrupt and deconstruct, Hodes deploys collage to challenge accepted hierarchical distinctions in art history.
"her collaging together of the monumental and the ordinary, and of the real and imagined demonstrates an acute ability to make visible what our contemporary eyes might otherwise overlook" – Rosie Howell, Printmaking Today
Hodes trawls widely for her source material and her work evidences a persistent engagement with and negotiation of historical material. She often uses archives and collections as starting points for her projects and, amongst others, she has worked with the Wallace Collection, the Spode Museum Trust and the V&A textile library.
Dr Janet McKenzie, former editor of Studio International, described Hodes’ work as: ‘A pragmatic assertion of the important yet threatened English tradition of decorative arts and of female independence in the art world’, but Hodes has a light, playful touch. Her viewer cannot help but be lured in by the lush colour and ornate pattern of her ‘painstakingly beautiful’ work (Dame Rosalind Savill, former Director, The Wallace Collection).
Hodes studied at Brighton College of Art and subsequently at the Slade School, University College, University of London, graduating with an MA in 1984.
Hodes has been awarded numerous grants and prizes, including the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2006. Her period as Associate Artist at the Wallace Collection, and subsequent solo exhibition Fragmented Images at the Gallery in 2007, was supported by Arts Council England (ACE) and the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC). In 2014, she received an ACE grant (collaboratively with artist Dr Paul Scott) to research engravings at the Spode ceramic factory Museum Archive, a tenure that inspired her two-year project, Dressed in Pattern.
Recent solo exhibitions include Remember Me, Wolverhampton Art Gallery (2017), Dressed in Pattern, jaggedart & Circus, London (2016), Grammar of Ornament: Papercuts & Ceramics jaggedart, London & New Hall Art Collection (2014), New Artworks, Clara Scremini Gallery, Paris (2012), Silhouettes & Filigree, Marlborough Gallery (2009) and Drawing Skirts, University of Northumbria (2008).
Hodes has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally including at the V&A (2002), Design Museum London (2003), Jerwood Gallery (3-person 2010) & at the Venice Biennial (2009 & 2013). She has collaborated with a number of research centres and studios including: Berengo Glass Studio, Murano, Venice; the Clay Studio, Philadelphia; the National Glass Centre Sunderland and the ceramic factory, Spode .
Hodes’ work is represented in many public collections including Brighton City Museum & Art Gallery, The British Council, New Hall Art Collection at the University of Cambridge, Potteries Museum, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Worcester City Museum, University College London and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Charlotte Hodes is Professor of Fine Art at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London.