NANCY FOUTS (1945-2019)
Nancy Fouts has been celebrated for her distinctive sculptures, which reconfigured everyday objects and ephemera with a characteristically playful and provocative humour. An avid collector of found objects, Fouts once described her approach to gleaning ideas from everyday life as ‘beachcombing’, creating visual poetry from unexpected combinations, modifications or wordplay. Her innovative approach to materials and techniques included traditional processes and improvised methods of motorization and taxidermy. Her sculptures are often objects ‘come to life’: a breathing hot water bottle, or a sewing machine poised to mimic the performance of a record turntable. Created with an enduring curiosity and mischievously subversive wit, Fouts accumulated an inventive and immersive personal world that challenged conventional systems and categories of symbolic meaning.
Born in Seattle, USA in 1945, Fouts moved to London, UK, at the age of 16, where she then lived and worked for more than five decades. After studying at Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art, Fouts first rose to attention in the creative scene of the Swinging Sixties, painting storefronts in Carnaby Street before cofounding the model-making and illustration workshop Shirt Sleeve Studio. Fouts had her first solo exhibition Improbable Objects at Flowers Gallery, London in 1970, during the gallery’s first year. She won the UK Designers and Art Directors Associations Gold Award for Most Outstanding Artwork in 1973, and created seminal advertising campaigns for Silk Cut, British Airways, Benson & Hedges, and Virgin, as well as designing album covers for bands including Manfred Mann, and Steeleye Span. Her work was exhibited at the 54th International Venice Biennale, 2011, as well as in Brussels, Denmark and London.