Rebecca Appleby: Infrastructure

5 - 30 June 2021

Infrastructure - The second solo exhibition dedicated to Rebecca Appleby at the Gallery.

Through a series of techniques developed over a 20-year career, Rebecca’s practice is an exploration of both balance and structure, within the built and natural environment. 


This new exhibition gathers a selection of sculptures and paintings including works from the “Grace” series that the artist started developing in September 2019. Of great personal significance this new body of work is an exploration of the symbolic relationship between the architectural and bodily decay. Through the exploration of the complex relationship between art and science Rebecca realised how clear the impact one has on the other and felt an urge to investigate the terrifying, emotional, mysterious and yet scientific experience she has been through.

Simultaneously Rebecca created new works exploring fundamental structure in nature, the body and industry/architecture. Those research questions how different systems and infrastructures relate and how this is realised in the form and materiality of a ceramic sculpture. Particularly interested in what happens when infrastructure is altered, broken, destroyed or re-imagined, Rebecca’s sculptures are constructed using slabs of clay draped over internal steel structures, pierced and stitched together. Breaking many rules of ceramic construction, she intentionally uses steel substrates to encourage the clay to crack and experience trauma. The sculptures are altered and re-imagined through the process of firing. The change that they undergo echoes a phenomenon known in architecture as ‘concrete cancer’, when a steel reinforcement starts to rust and expand, displacing the surrounding concrete, whilst the disfiguration, broken edges & patina are suggestive of the human body experiencing injury, ageing and decay.


“Visually, I think these abstract sculptural fragments have a conceptual & aesthetic beauty. I think disfiguration and patina of age or trauma tells a beautiful story. Cracks, marks, scars, dints & broken edges enhancing beauty. Rather than considering a broken object ‘destroyed’ I believe it to be a transformation sometimes to the point of abstraction. It is fascinating, intriguing to wonder about its journey and to enjoy the aesthetic transfiguration. In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".


Born in Leeds, Rebecca is a highly respected artist, whose sculptural and painterly eye, allows her the diversity to go beyond the boundaries of her traditional background in ceramics, giving her the freedom to create vibrant and challenging work.

Rebecca trained at Edinburgh College of Art 1999-2001 (BA Ceramics) and currently lives and works in Yorkshire.