William Mackrell (b.1983) works out of performance and an intense activation of materials and surface, blurring beauty with a sinister unraveling of his thoughts. Within this fragile assemblage of language he delves into sensations of absence, sexuality, waiting and rebirth.
Mackrell was awarded the Manchester Contemporary Art Fund in 2017 with acquisition of his work Aquarius to Manchester Art Gallery collection and exhibited in the gallery’s Pre-Raphaelite Rooms (2018).
Back of someone’s head (Kensington Road)
Etching on C-type print (unframed)
29.7 cm x 21 cm
Back of someone’s head (Kensington Road) is one of Mackrell’s earliest studies on the back of people’s heads, torsos and other hairy parts of the body. Each photograph follows a pattern of being framed as a tight close up adding further mystery to the work’s sexuality, scale and at times the direction from which we are viewing the body. Mackrell then begins to work meticulously into the photographic paper with etching needles, scratching away each individual hair from the image. Works from this series held in the Manchester Art Gallery Collection include, Aquarius, Gulp (Study 1) and Back of Someone’s head (Flight FR4966).
“I am attracted to the idea that by scratching away and removing each hair actually highlights the presence of the hair, adding a living dimension to the work. The scratches turn and swirl in surrealistic forms, silvery and electric like. Beginning this series came out of a reaction to my locality of living and growing up in London. Spending a lot of time on the tube and buses where you are packed in with other passengers sometimes avoiding to make eye contact, but being forced to be so close to people. It was in this situation that I started studying people’s hair to the point I felt like an ant crawling in the back of someone’s head, in a sea of hair” - William Mackrell
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