Common Knowledge

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Sarah Browne, Common Knowledge (2006–2010). Seasonal flowers pressed in books of philosophy, sociology and economics, each in a tulip frame c.20cm x 30cm. Installation view at Unto This Last, Raven Row, London. Photo: Eva Herzog

‘In Common Knowledge, a series of wall-mounted pressed flowers evolving from an ongoing practice, Sarah Browne similarly challenges two presumed characteristics of craft: the pastoral and the amateur. In doing so, she corroborates Adamson’s observation that ‘the pastoral and the amateur are conceptual structures in which craft’s marginalisation has been consciously put to use’. The grid-like display of the series is an obvious hint at conceptualism. At the same time, the intellectual activity associated with the books in which the flowers were pressed – a compendium of works by male sociologists, philosophers and anthropologists – is clearly at odds with the feminine subtext of the practice…Not unlike Büttner’s investigation of the artist’s embarrassment, Common Knowledge can thus be likened to a self-reflexive questioning of the artist’s practice, while surreptitiously addressing issues of class and gender: flower crafts was a widely common pastime for upper class women in the Victorian age, an aestheticised, leisurely version of botanical studies…The gender issues emerging in Browne’s work must be seen in light of a broader discussion on marginality.’

– Alice Motard, curator of Unto This Last at Raven Row, London

(full exhibition text here)

Detail from Common Knowledge: April 2010, Forget-me-nots in 'Capitalist Realism' by Mark Fisher

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