tim noble + sue webster: nihilistic optimistic
original content
oct 12, 2012
tim noble + sue webster: nihilistic optimistic



wild mood swings, 2009 – 2010
two wooden stepladders, discarded wood, light projector
tim: 167 x 178.5 x 110 cm / sue: 130 x 215 x 98.5 cm
installation dimensions: variable
image © peter mallet


tim noble & sue webster
blaine southern gallery, london
october 10th 2012 – november 24th 2012

nihilistic optimistic is the UK’s tim noble & sue webster’s first major solo exhibition at blaine southern gallery in london since 2006.
featuring six large-scale works, the show builds upon the artists’ sustained investigation into self-portraiture, further deconstructing
the relationship between materiality and form which has been so intrinsic to their practice. constructed principally from discarded wood
and other materials, the artists describe these sculptures as ‘street compositions’.

each work appears abstracted or even unfinished as the debris of the artists’ studio – gathered sawdust, wood shavings and tools
– lie scattered around the sculptures. a sense of urban chaos is implicit within the construction of the surrounding gallery environment;
this is not an isolated white cube space, but one which remains connected to the studio and the streets – to the source of these artworks. 

‘there was a kind of deliberate choice not to use such recognizable objects any more, and to start fracturing things up – splintering things.
so the mind has to wander in a different way, like you’re giving and taking, and it’s as much about the gaps and holes in between.’
– tim noble



nasty pieces of work, 2008-2009

two wooden stepladders, discarded wood, broken tools, light projector
2 parts: / 171 x 166 x 86 cm / 191 x 156 x 101 cm
installation dimensions: variable
image © peter mallet

when illuminated, a number of works cast shadow portraits upon the wall; the artists are represented both together and alone, as a unit 
and as individuals. in my beautiful mistake (2012), this light source is poignantly omitted, throwing the focus on the tentative material 
composition of the sculpture itself, and its sense of impending destruction. the exhibition’s dualistic title, nihilistic optimistic, responds 
to the oppositional forces present within these works, and indeed within the artists themselves; the show is at once constructive and destructive,
hopeful and despairing. light and shadow, form and absence, figuration and abstraction all inform one another and exist in a constant state of tension. 

a catalogue accompanies the exhibition, featuring contributions by gustav metzger, hans ulrich orbits and jon savage. in collaboration with the 
vinyl factory, tim noble & sue webster have also produced a limited edition artwork in the form of a ten-inch record.



the individual, 2012
wooden stepladder, discarded wood, light projector
193 x 299 x 69 cm
image © peter mallet



youngman, 2012

wooden stepladder, discarded wood, light projector
213.5 x 338.5 x 58 cm
image © peter mallet



self imposed misery, 2010

wooden stepladder, discarded wood, light projector
224 x 78.5 x 403.5 cm
image © peter mallet



nihilistic optimistic, installation, 2012
image © peter mallet


nihilistic optimistic, installation, 2012
image © peter mallet


nihilistic optimistic, installation, 2012
image © peter mallet


nihilistic optimistic, installation, 2012
image © peter mallet

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