"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 cross-overs between the fine and decorative arts. She draws on craft processes to create imagery firmly situated within the language of fine art. She brings her considerable experience as a painter to both her extraordinarily intricate papercuts and large-scale installations in which ready-made 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 her work is nonetheless a disruptive force, refusing her given role as decorative feature to take ownership of her environment and reclaim her autonomy.
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. Her 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, she 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. 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 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 Museum 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 the engravings in the Spode Museum Trust archive, a tenure that inspired her two-year project, ‘Dressed in Pattern’. Since 2014, she has been collaborating with poet, Deryn Rees-Jones, on text-image projects that formed their exhibition ‘The Errant Muse’ at the Victoria Gallery & Museum, Liverpool (November 2019-March 2020).
Recent solo exhibitions include; ‘After the Taking of Tea’ Ruthin Craft Centre, Wales, 2019; ‘Remember Me’ Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 2017, touring to the National Centre for Craft and Design (NCCD), Sleaford, 2020; ‘Dressed in Pattern’ jaggedart & Circus, London, 2016; ‘Grammar of Ornament’ jaggedart & New Hall Art Collection, Cambridge, 2014; ‘New Artworks’ Clara Scremini Gallery, Paris, 2012 & 2019; ‘Silhouettes & Filigree’ Marlborough Gallery, 2009.
Hodes has exhibited at the V&A, 2002; Design Museum London, 2003; Jerwood Gallery (3-person), 2010; Venice Biennial, 2009 & 2013. She has collaborated with a number of research centres and studios including; Berengo Studio, Murano, Venice; The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, USA; Centre for Fine Print Research, UWE, Bristol; National Glass Centre, Sunderland; Spode, Staffordshire.
Charlotte Hodes is Professor of Fine Art at London College of Fashion, UAL.