Powder-coated industrial paintings and the story of a vaudeville magician feature in a sculptural installation that responds to the unique ecosystem of Ritherdon
Ritherdon’s 20th Century production of magic tricks is shrouded in secrecy. The mysterious relationship between company founder Percy Ritherdon and Chung Ling Soo, the American illusionist whose fatal encounter with a magic bullet trick so shocked 1918 Britain, has found reflection in Nicola Ellis’ deep residency with the company. Like the Chung Ling Soo, the artist has subverted factory processes for the production of something bespoke, producing a series of powder-coated ‘paintings’ aping the presence of the fabricators hand, while leaving the final mark of creation to the automated machines of manufacturing.
A vanishing act also features, as the left-behind shapes present in sheets of metal after factory cutting take their place in Ellis’ sculptural ambitions, creating a solid structure that gives flesh to the negative space. As scraps of metal are temporarily lifted from the Ritherdon site, they will be returned to Ritherdon to re-join their predetermined journey.