Born 1977 Guildford, UK
Douglas White is an artist who takes decaying objects, discarded waste and that which we have rejected as useless or irrelevant and breathes new life into it. From rotten trees, lightning struck pine and exploded tyres. His reinstating of objects that no longer have a specific use provides new frames of poetic reference and a powerfully visceral experience. Douglas White became fascinated by the long leathery strips of burst tyres that littered the dusty roads when he was traveling in Belize, he exported a load of the worn out rubber and used it to make a weary looking palm tree, Using found organic material – ancient roots, branches, seed pods – Douglas White’s works pulse with a weird energy bestowed on the dead and the desiccated by their new life as a sculpture. Allusions abound when we look at Douglas White’s flayed tree, the fronds resembling burnt wings with their gnarled and frayed edges. From a distance, it looks dead, a burnt out carcass, all life vanquished. Post apocalyptic, otherworldly, it isn’t a tree we recognise as such, but yet we are familiar with its form. Its portent seems one of death and destruction, and with climate change currently such a prescient issue, Douglas Whiteseems to say, the future is not so bright. In our fervent need to have it all, and our heedless pursuit of wealth at the possible cost of the planet, it acts a cipher, a repository for our fears, a 21st Century totem to warn of forthcoming danger.
The sculpture on show in Unholy Truths, Crows Stove, continues Douglas White’s use of burst tyres and the image of the palm tree. The shabby appearance of the cabinet on which the tree stands and the casual application of lacquered paint to parts of it in an unfinished attempt to smarten it up, suggests a narrative to Douglas White that is inconclusive. The palm tree represents a sense of the carnivalesque, the celebratory and the exotic that contrasts with the material used – burnt, broken and stripped tyres, as well as a kind of demented colonialist connection with the bad old days of rubber plantations.
Source: Cass Sculpture Foundation and the artist