Stephen Booth is a promising Canadian sculptor who explores the human figure as a narrative instrument. He works in clay in the one- to two-foot range to create solid, fired groups of figures abstracted to the essence of their shapes and forms.
Stephen Booth, Consolidation (2004), solid, fired clay [Kurbatoff Gallery, Vancouver BC, Nov through Jan]
With their tiny heads, bulky torsos and massed bodies, the clustered figures induce an otherworldly sense of déja vu that is simultaneously representative and metaphoric. The smooth surfaces provide ambiguous cues about their relationships. Are they families, social groups or anonymous crowds? Only a slight turn of a head or tilting pose in some works indicates the nature of their interactions with each other. In others, the figures make impenetrable collective masses that are hard to read. The lack of space between individual forms generates a sense of both interconnectivity and isolation.
Booth won an award from the Elizabeth Greenshield Foundation and in 1997 was awarded a John Kinross Scholarship from the Royal Scottish Academy. He graduated in 1995 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and in 1998 with an MFA from the Edinburgh College of Art. He lived and worked in Scotland for six years before returning to Vancouver last autumn. Booth has exhibited with Scotland's National Portrait Gallery, the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, the National Museum of Scotland and the Bank of Scotland.