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Virginia Overton

Untitled (Juniper), 2014

Mild steel, gold leaf and paint 288 × 106 × 113 cm

Virginia Overton’s work often focuses on the physiological properties of sculpture, the effects of matter, weight, density and luminosity. Her sculpture, Untitled (Juniper) (2014), is a fully functioning wind instrument much like the traditional weathervanes that are still visible across London, including the roof of the Clock Mill behind you.

The weathervane’s ornamental feature is a juniper tree. Some species of juniper are also known as cedars (for example, the common name for the Juniperus virginiana is the eastern red cedar). The cedar tree is commonly found throughout the southern part of the United States, where Overton grew up. The artist often uses milled cedar  in sculptures but here the use of the tree is more akin to an ode. She overlays the cast steel shape of the tree with gold leaf, which catches and reflects the light as it tracks the direction of the wind.

Female juniper trees produce aromatic purple cones, which look very much like blueberries. Juniper berries have long been used to flavour gin, so the artwork speaks to its location at Three Mills, which in the 18th and 19th centuries ground grain and featured a distillery on site for the production of gin. The spirit distilled here supplied the gin palaces of London’s gin craze and even the Royal Navy.

Courtesy of the Artist and White Cube

Supported by

Biography

Virginia Overton (b.1971, Tennessee) is an American artist whose practice comprises installation, sculpture and photography. Her work often begins intuitively, as a direct response to her physical presence in a particular space. Favouring elemental materials, she often selects recycled objects that are found on site or things discovered in the environs of the exhibition space. Wood, metal, plexi and fluorescent lighting – materials more commonly associated with architecture, construction work or farming – are cut, bent and hammered into works that evince the power and sensory quality of their own materials. Solo exhibitions include Socrates Sculpture Park, New York (2018); Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, Arizona (2017) and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2016). Overton lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Images:
1: Charlotte Booth
2: Angus Mill
3: Angus Mill