Opening Kunstverein Biberach
Dr. Uwe Degreif

I would like to start with a quote from the artist. She said about her work: “I often deal with the question: How much has to be done so that a motif can be recognized? When does the clay cease to be a formless lump? I explore sculptural problems, such as how to show movement in a sculpture or how to show the sensitivity and strength of an organic form. I see my work as a productive and poetic struggle with the heavy clay material.”
In these sentences, the artist addresses a number of artistic questions, e.g. from which moment of working with the material does the desired form reveal itself to her, when can we viewers recognize something, how is the impression of movement created? But also: How can she express a feeling? Recognition, movement, sensations are therefore important aspects of her work. And there is another one – the historical reference that the artist makes in many of her works.

  1. Recognition
    I suspect that the very first impression most of us had was linked to the question: Is the work finished or not? Am I encountering something that is at the moment of disintegration or at the moment of emergence? Growing or decaying? Some works seem to have reached a point where stabilization is necessary; rods, bars are supposed to give the acrylic resin stability like iron reinforcement in reinforced concrete. Will the rods still be removed or will they remain supports? Some areas are more elaborate than others. The closed form is broken up in many places, in some places it even seems to have melted or become tattered. The impression of transition is predominant. In no sculpture is there anything that could be described as ‘unambiguous’. What we see is both finished and unfinished at the same time.
    Lucy Teasdale’s sculptures are not abstract. They would be abstract if the artist started from the image and then transformed it into a simplified form. In other words, if she abandoned the concrete and turned to the elemental. In Teasdale’s work, the opposite process takes place: at first glance, the unclear, indeterminate, even confusing is revealed and then we gradually approach the concrete, begin to discover. Our imagination supplements and completes the work in many places, our imagination makes it concrete, step by step it becomes more precise.
  2. Sensation
    In my perception, the process of creation is a slow one. I don’t know how exactly Lucy Teasdale knows her goal, how concrete the idea for a sculpture is at the beginning of the creative process, but I assume that the overall appearance changes a great deal when the individual lumps of clay are put together. This makes spontaneity an important factor. Teasdale’s works appear to me as a combination of slowness and spontaneity. They could develop in different directions.
    What emotions can be identified? I can recognize dancers who are fully committed to a turn. I can recognize horses and riders, fluttering swans, fighters ascending and descending – some with sweeping gestures, some rearing up, swinging each other up. Some see themselves cornered or squeezed, others shouldering burdens. This experience also includes falling and collapsing. Most express strong feelings, very few are in a moment of relaxation or rest.
  3. Movement
    The impression of movement is not known to be real, but is based on an illusion. We think we perceive movement, comparable to the space in a painting, which is also just a painterly illusion. In reality, we see standstill and the moment between two phases of movement. Lucy Teasdale overturns this unavoidable impression of standstill in what I think is an incredible variety of ways. For example, by breaking down a movement into several phases and placing them one after the other. Or by having dance couples turn next to each other like little dolls. Or by depicting the course of a movement as an arc, leading our gaze from one side to the other. Or by arranging the sculpture in a spiral and having it rotate on its own axis. Or by distributing the dynamics over different levels and allowing them to grow from the bottom upwards. In some sculptures, the impression of movement is created by an alternation of stability and instability, as in the seesaw, for example. In some, the impression of something unfinished creates the idea of something flowing or cascading. The impression of change dominates in all the sculptures. The impression of dynamism is also created by the fact that we move around the sculpture ourselves and perceive several changes of direction.
  4. References to time:
    Some works have something enchanted, fairytale-like about them. Others create references to the historical, such as the historicism of the late 19th century, which seems somewhat decadent to us today. Historical forms appear several times, costumes, a seesaw, some sticks appear like lances in a medieval equestrian battle. Almost every sculpture contains something from a bygone era. There are also references to sport. The horse connects the realm of history with that of sport. In connection with a plinth, a horse refers to the tradition of the equestrian statue and thus to the tradition of the ruler’s image. What goes on the pedestal, what has to leave it? To finally reach the top or to descend again? Many of Teasdale’s sculptures revolve around winners and losers.

Some sculptures evoke the idea that they are connected to a specific historical event without this event becoming obvious. Sometimes the title provides a clue. The connection between figures and battle seems to suggest a remembrance of something historically significant.
In what tradition do her works stand? In the broadest sense, in that of Impressionism. Why? Because the traces of processing are completely visible. There are many indentations and impressions and therefore many areas of light and shadow on the surface. The impression of the momentary dominates. Teasdale does not condense very much, she does not create compact masses, her sculptures are always transparent, they do not close themselves off from the surrounding space.

My concluding remark: the artist would hardly be suitable for creating a monument. To create a monument, you need the ideal, you need the will to exaggerate. The message of monuments to us is to emulate the exemplary. Lucy Teasdale’s sculptures, however, do not carry the certainty of success and victory. On the other hand, Lucy Teasdale would be very suitable for designing a memorial, because the moment of failure and decline is contained in many of her sculptures. A memorial focuses on the consequences, it shows the suffering associated with the struggle, illustrates destruction and grief.