Issue 26 Magic Summer 2007

Artist Project / Legerdemains

Ruth Claxton

Legerdemains continues a series of works derived from paintings I have encountered only in the form of museum-shop postcards, intentionally insulating myself from the “primal” source of the original and preferring to work instead with the materiality of a kitsch token of an experience never had. Without quite realizing I was under the thrall of the word magic, I was drawn to images that suggested liminal elements of magic iconography: theater-like curtains, oriental costumes, Tommy Cooper’s fez, magic birds. Only one postcard is purchased, and then cut freehand during a single session, with no prior drawing, using gestures or flourishes—sleights-of-hand—that may or may not fail.

Ruth Claxton is a UK-based artist. She is currently undertaking a production residency at Spike Island, Bristol, where she is developing work for an exhibition at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, in 2008. For more information, visit

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