Frances Richardson: Playing Against Reason

This article is from 2008

Frances Richardson: Playing Against Reason

Sculpture and walk-in drawings explore the gambler’s mindset

In rationalising her new exhibition, English artist Frances Richardson finds it best to quote the wisdom of Chico Marx: ‘If I lose today, I can look forward to winning tomorrow, and if I win today, I can expect to lose tomorrow. A sure thing is no fun.’ The work Richardson has created for Playing Against Reason seeks to reflect the mindset of a gambler, and the way that the possible outcomes of placing that bet – winning, losing – make themselves feel almost as real as the gambler’s starting state.

Her sculptural work for this second consecutive Edinburgh Art Festival show at the Corn Exchange Gallery comprises MDF ladders, designed to such a point of apparent disrepair that they look both temptingly usable and dangerously unsteady. She has also created a series of what she calls ‘walk-in drawings’, drawn artworks depicting currency symbols and playing card suits, composed of hundreds of tiny plus and minus symbols. Richardson describes these as almost sculptural themselves, by the very specific and time-consuming nature of their construction.

‘Conceptually, these symbols represent an ideal space. In mathematical probability there’s a ‘law of high numbers’ in which profits and losses balance themselves out over time, which relates to the hidden mathematics behind capitalist systems and futures trading.’ She aims to recreate the gambler’s hand hiding the heart of the Western economy – a system which seeks to manipulate the economic future, yet still resembles a rickety ladder upon which stepping is always a gamble.

Corn Exchange Gallery, 561 7300, until 28 Aug, free.

Edinburgh Art Festival

Scotland's largest annual celebration of visual art offers work by the best contemporary Scottish artists as well as exhibitions of the most important international artists and movements of the 20th century and other historical periods. This year, ten artists from previous Edinburgh Art Festival editions will present…

Playing Against Reason

Frances Richardson returns to the gallery with a compelling body of new work including a series of drawings based on playing cards. 'Part of the Edinburgh Art Festival'