Des Hughes

I Want To Be Adored

Texts by Stephen Feeke, Bruce Haines and Harry Thorne

A witty, dark and sensitive humour runs through the work of British artist Des Hughes. His practice is an obsessive, physical enquiry into the traditions of sculpture, rethinking conventional methods and materials. Nothing is as it first appears; crudely modelled clay is meticulously cast in resin but, with the inclusion of marble or iron dust, could easily have been carved from a block of stone or forged in a blacksmith’s furnace. He collects, he dismembers, he puts things back together in fragments, or leaves pieces in an unfinished state – or just leaves them in pieces. He is a Surrealist de nos jours. At the same time, there is always a tender acknowledgment of the canon of modernist sculpture, and of the fragile heroism inherent in the handmade object. Alongside this sculptural work, textiles have also become a potent aspect of his practice. While time-consuming, his embroidering looks spontaneous, like a hastily handwritten scrawl. His cross-stitch is self-taught and has a distinctly amateur appearance; raw edges and wonky letters give his sewn samplers a homespun quality.

In this beautiful and compelling book, Hughes leads the reader through the passages of his creative mind, offering a commentary on his most significant works. Texts by Stephen Feeke, Bruce Haines and Harry Thorne respond to particular aspects of the practice. The result is the first comprehensive monograph on the quiet revolutionary at the heart of contemporary sculpture.

Des Hughes is a British artist who studied at Bath School of Art and Design and Goldsmiths College, University of London. He has had multiple solo exhibitions at galleries including Hepworth Wakefield; Manchester Art Gallery; Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle; Nottingham Contemporary; and Frieze Art Fair, London. He has been in numerous group shows, including at the Tate Britain; Royal Academy; Saatchi Gallery; Henry Moore Foundation and Henry Moore Institute; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; New Art Centre; Camden Arts Centre; and in the Sculpture Garden of Frieze Art Fair, London.

Stephen Feeke is Director of the New Art Centre at Roche Court, Salisbury.

Bruce Haines is a gallerist, curator and researcher based in London.

Harry Thorne is a writer and editor based in Berlin. He is assistant editor of frieze magazine and a contributing editor of the White Review.