The Secret Life of Stuff

Catherine Ferguson

Research output: Non-textual outputExhibition


In 1936 the Surrealist artist Eileen Agar painted a watercolour in the South of France titled Thumb Rock. In the 1980s she returned to the theme of landscape painting, but it was a return, not so much to the subject matter itself, as to the strange and anthropomorphic or animalistic hauntings which she first caught sight of in the early part of the 20th Century. Her particular playful and idiosyncratic appropriation of the Surrealist zeitgeist of the 1930s, and the repetition of earlier motifs fifty years later, reminds us how important notions of the unconscious have remained in the making of works of art ever since.

The Secret Life of Stuff sets out to re contextualise Agar’s work and the idea of the ‘unconscious’ in relation to the work of four contemporary artists. The title alludes to the need to open up this term, away from its psychoanalytical meaning which was so important to Surrealism, and to recover a wider understanding that extends beyond the subject. For the artists exhibiting work in this show it is the role materials play in making art that is instrumental in actualising those unconscious forces which we suspect are there and which we yearn to see.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
EditionThe Secret Life of Stuff
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Co-curated with Della Gooden. Exhibiting artists: Eileen Agar | Bernice Donszelmann | Catherine Ferguson | John Gibbons | Della Gooden

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  • Cite this

    Ferguson, C. (Author/Creator). (2018). The Secret Life of Stuff. Exhibition, Arthouse1.