Sophie Smallhorn’s work explores the relationships between colour, volume and proportion through various mediums that include sculpture, print and large scale site-specific installations. Known for the strong use of colour within her work, probably her biggest project to date is her involvement in the creation of the 2012 London Olympic Stadium where she was commissioned to put together the changing spectrum of colours for the fabric wrap that runs around the outside of the building. Inspired by the colours of the Olympic rings and the flags of the 204 countries participating, Sophie worked with architects and designers to transform the monochrome structure into a dynamic object that was seen by the world in the summer of 2012.
Alongside these site-specific public commissions - which also include a glass roof structure in London Victoria and wall-based vinyl colour bands at Canary Wharf’s Jubilee Line underground station - Smallhorn makes works on paper in the form of monotypes and screenprints. Still with a strong focus on colour and often using a specific saturated palette that her working practice has become synonymous with, her prints are clean, crisp and uplifting as they explore shape and form through geometric arrangements. In October 2011 she produced a series of 100 unique screenprints that played and experimented with colour and form. After her work on the Olympic project she welcomed the idea of being in her studio, moving quickly and instinctively through ideas to create works that often relied on chance and the odd ‘happy accident’ rather than being tied in by the restrictions and regulations of such a large scale, organised affair.
There is no theory, science or system in Sophie’s approach to her work. Other than the ink on the paper, texture is not admitted. In terms of her sculptural works, which are usually small, simple, clean and geometric, rather like a lot of her works on paper, the chance element of light and the controlled juxtaposition of form, volume, weight and colour are all she requires.
Born in Hertfordshire in 1971, Smallhorn trained at the University of Brighton (1991-94), graduating with a BA in Furniture - wood, metal, plastics and ceramics.
Throughout the 1990s she exhibited regularly in solo exhibitions and in some group shows, both in London and abroad. Her first overseas exhibition was at Andrea Leenarts, Cologne, in 1998. A solo exhibition at Colette, Paris, in 1999 followed, as did further solo shows in London and Lyon. Public art commissions, include the Arts for Health project at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, 1994-95 and again in 1998 and an installation of coloured flags and objects for the reopening of Somerset House in The Strand, London, in summer 2000.
Outdoor sculptures include an arrangement of red blocks outside the Comme des Garçons flagship store in Tokyo (1999), while a scatter of coloured blocks can be seen in the grounds of the Cass Sculpture Foundation at Goodwood.
In 2011 she collaborated with British designer Sebastian Bergne at the Saatchi Gallery to create an elegant one-off piece of work ‘Colourware’, a joint exploration of colour through stacked plates. Sophie currently lives and works in London.
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