Above: 'Slabb: Chinchilla', silicone, glass, painted ply, 2022

About the work

Working since 2020 with hand-extruded silicone and an evolving methodology, Ever Grainger sets out to capture moments of making as still tangibly present. Through adapted processes with a caulking gun, silicone is squeezed, squashed and drawn with, using freehand techniques that balance material-led outcomes with intuition and control. The resulting works in material and medium terms, are simultaneously sculpture, painting and drawing.

Silicone is favoured as a modern material that is at once liquid and solid, soft and firm. Made from silica - sand - as its core ingredient, it is a rubber, it is resilient and rebounds. Its unique properties of setting, taking a detailed impression, grabbing and yet being flexible and non-stick, have made it ideal in the art world behind the scenes for the preparatory processes of mould-making. In various grades it is available as the tubed material to fill gaps and seal building materials ranging from low-end DIY offerings to specialist high-end formulas.

Taking the simple process of extruding through defined diameters of nozzle and steering the output into a variety of forms, results in works that connect with a range of art history references including rococo maximalism, biomorphic viscera, automatic drawing, action painting, truth to materials, minimalist repetition, conceptual investigation and graphic, edible, squishy, pop.

Examples of works made with silicone to date include ‘Slabbs' where the physical contact with (now invisible) surfaces is exaggerated with ghost side formers pressing in. ‘Drop, Off' is drawn and draped over and over again, travelling both forward and levitating sideways off an edge. 'The Smoothing’ takes looped, closely drawn lines of silicone onto prepared canvases, appearing as perhaps oil paint squeezed from tubes. The lines are abruptly flattened and spread by another usually smaller canvas, acting as the ‘tool’ which is afterwards mounted in tandem to the side.

The touch-response quality of the material is important and is made available to others through works that are ‘cured unattached’. For example, the smaller hand-sized ‘Edge Drops’ can be picked up and examined and then placed/installed on any given edge of furniture or shelves. Other works that are permanently affixed, with their tightly snaking coils of matt or glossy loops, convey instead a ‘haptic sense of vision’*.

In part, the work is a development of a history of dealing with the seduction and consumption of objects and images through two dimensional screen-based media. With current computer technology removing the need for any physical interaction, eg. the devising of sculpture from scratch within 3D modelling software, Grainger revisits instead more basic level tools, where physical overrides, and intuitive control in the moment are still possible as a way of attempting to retain a physical bodily connection, a grounding and a sense of our current present.

Overtly or covertly, the works can appear to be computer generated and in some cases are presumed to be 3D printed. To embrace this dichotomy further, progress is underway to make use of laser scanning technology of pre-existing silicone works, to then use 3D printing to make editions or scaled copies in contrasting materials in a further a dialogue with processes, materials and outcomes in reference to the hand-made original. Current works devised for potential scanning and casting include ‘Slabb: Grey’, 'After (Party)' and ‘Vessel I & II’. The recent awarding of The Pangolin Digital Ltd Sculpture Prize which provides for the 3D scanning of an artwork to the level required for printing/casting in bronze, is an exciting development.


*Art historian Victoria Turner on Henry Moore:

“Moore thoroughly exploited the natural grain of wood in achieving the final form. Following the undulating grains of the wood also encourages our haptic sense of vision - in other words, looking evokes touching.”

Above: 'Glass Weighs', silicone, low-iron glass, 2022