Sculptor Beth Carter was awarded her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from Sunderland University in 1995, before embarking on a series of travels in pursuit of the ethnologic of figure making. The universality of mythic narratives, and the symbols, characters and exploits that are thrown up by it, are prominent features of a body of work that is as stunning visually as it is conceptually and technically.
Carter’s bronzes realise the heroes and villains of the Hellenic and European pantheon in heavy, brooding bronze, re-situating the classical protagonist in the complex, existential contemporary. The minotaur of Knosos, once grotesque and forebearing, is captured now out of context; he sits here pensive, cerebral, turning the pages of a book. ‘Wolf with deer’, meanwhile, features a chimeric hybrid of wolf and man, clutching his limp prey with both hands -- he stands paused, not in victory, but in regret, melancholy, confusion. Many of Carter’s bronzes embody this dualism.
Animated by the confidence of history, anchored by the ancient narratives they reference, her figures nonetheless exhibit the uneasy disconsolation of our time: an era in which monkey, not the organ grinder, seems a hero better suited, more representational, to the modern myth.