Simon Bedwell: SOCIETY Exhibition 2017 – Summer Festival

27 June–8 July 2017


Simon Bedwell

A key moment in our extended summer festival – come to visit Simon Bedwell’s exhibition until 8 July, Tuesday to Saturday, 12 – 5pm.


Inspired by Brian Yuzna’s 1989 film, in which the poor are ingested by the rich at ceremonial soirees, Simon Bedwell’s new installation SOCIETY features portraits heads of the current Cabinet, laughing at an amorphous, orgiastic mass of interlinking, organic, crafted pot-bodies.

In addition to Simon Bedwell’s newly commissioned installation, visitors to SOCIETY will also be able to see two sets of printed material collected by the artist: etchings by John Kay and Faceache comic strips; alongside a display of protest materials collected by Aberdeen based archivist Andrew MacGregor.

This is part of Hospitalfield Summer Festival 2017 – check out the other events at the bottom of this page or read this introduction…


Simon Bedwell’s work has generally been characterised by a sprawling, mouthy, sensuous version of institutional critique which deliberately eschews the genre’s usual Calvinist mode. Institutional critique is a term given to the systematic investigation, reflection on and acting against the structures inherent in institutions. Art galleries and museums are the most usual focus of institutional critique by artists but with this project there’s a chance to think about the process of institutional critique in terms of everybody’s reflection on society’s political institutions in relation to democracy, press and government.

Simon Bedwell (Born Croydon, 1963) lives and works in London. He graduated from the MFA course at Goldsmiths College, London, in 1993, and has been teaching there since 2000. He has exhibited widely throughout the UK and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include at Piper Keys, London (2016); Howick Place, London and Hå gamle prestegard, Norway (both 2014) and he was part of the group exhibition In a Dream I Saw a Way to Survive and I Was Full of Joy at Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester (2016). In 2011 he curated a series of five weekend exhibitions and events called The Hole which had the strap line ‘The Hole is for art, not art history’. His work was included in Rude Brittania at Tate Britain in 2010 and he had a major solo show at Studio Voltaire in London entitled The Asphalt World in 2009.

In 1991 Simon Bedwell co-founded the London art group BANK with John Russell, which for 12 years made art, exhibitions, tabloid-style publications and events including projects at Musee d’Art Moderne, Paris and ICA, London (both 1997).

Simon Bedwell’s new work has been supported by The Elephant Trust.


Images and references: Simon Bedwell, The Asphalt World, Studio Voltaire. Reference in this biographical information to Simon Bedwell’s Goldsmiths profile page.


John Kay (1742 – 1826) was a barber, caricaturist and engraver born near Dalkeith and well known for the portraits he made, first of his fellow barber-surgeons and then of other characters which he saw around Edinburgh.


Image: John Kay etching from his Giant series.


Faceache was originally drawn by Ken Reid and later by Frank McDiarmid in which the protagonist Ricky Rubberneck was a boy with a extraordinarily bendable head and body which enabled him to disguise himself as other animals and inanimate objects.The strip was published in Jet and then in Buster running between 1971 and 1988.


Image: Faceache logo image.


Hospitalfield is delighted to present a specially selected display, entitled We Rule You, We Fool You, from the personal collection of Andrew MacGregor, an Aberdeen based activist and collector. The printed publications, posters, flyers and objects selected for SOCIETY are mechanisms for thinking about and protesting against our institutions: government, politicians, church, royal family, judiciary, press, military, aristocracy, banks and businesses. The items presented employ humour, explicitness and style to prompt thought and action. MacGregor cites his collection as being driven by two obsessions: Firstly a lifetime of protest: on the streets, on the couch shouting at the television news and in small daily acts of rebellion. Secondly a lifetime of obsessive collecting with a need to preserve for future generations evidence of those individuals and organisations which have campaigned on political, social, economic, military, or religious issues.

I pick up leaflets all the time, take stickers and posters off walls, go to political events to acquire the latest campaign literature. Not only that, I have started to acquire older material, from 100, 200 years ago. It is then you realise that there have always been radical voices, and the causes are still much the same. This is fascinating but also tragic that the same issues have not still not been won…


Images: working photos of Andrew MacGregor’s collection.

Simon Bedwell’s new work has been supported by The Elephant Trust.

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