Tag Archives: Contemporary British Artists

“‘I breathe when I sleep’ is the same thing as ‘I sleep when I breathe’!”

Felinka Mouse 2013, Mister Finch

The sculptures of Mister Finch, a British textile artist, conjure up a mesmerizing world of sleepy dormice and March hares, magical mushrooms and mischievous fairies, of Victorians romancing fantasy and nature. One of the works in particular (pictured here) caught my eye. The mouse is titled Felinka, but unlike the mice of Fairy- and Wonderland, Mister Finch’s mouse happens to be gigantic—at least for a mouse. Rivaling the capybara, the planet’s largest rodent, Felinka measures more than three-feet across and has a tail that’s five feet long.

Often referred to under the umbrella of the cuddly-sounding art form “soft sculpture,” each of the works Finch creates are sewn from remnants of new and vintage cloths, recycled clothing and table linens. The pieces are as meticulously realistic as they are fanciful; they’re as hard as they are soft.

While articles about Finch’s work almost invariably point to the Pop artist Claes Oldenburg, considered ‘the creator of soft sculpture’ with his three-dimensional interpretations of everyday objects, the use of non-traditional, malleable materials—felt, foam and fabric and animal skins sewn and stuffed for example—can be traced back to the first half of the twentieth century and the works of the Surrealists, including Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and Meret Oppenheim. That being said, perusing his website and the press, I get a sense that Finch (the Mister he added to reference his gender, meaningful in that he is a man who sews) is hardly the sort who is preoccupied with his place on art history’s spectrum. He seems to prefer to spend his days in his studio working late into the night, sewing his sculptures to the steady patter of the Yorkshire rain.[1]

He completed Felinka in April of 2013. In an email, he wrote, “I’m drawn to creatures with eyes closed as it has more room for interpretation,” and added, “a huge mouse was something I always wanted to make…”[2]

“Do we need [enchantment] now more than ever?” a journalist recently asked him what feels to me today like an urgent question. To which Finch replied, “I don’t believe it ever went away.”[3]



[1] Laren Stover, “Faeryland and Toadstools Arrive in Chelsea, Courtesy of Mister Finch,” The New York Observer, June 10, 2015.

[2] Email to author, December 28, 2015.

[3] Stover, “Faeryland and Toadstools Arrive in Chelsea, Courtesy of Mister Finch.”

Additional sources: Steven Kasher Gallery, NYC; “Viewfinder,” T Magazine, The New York Times, December 3, 2015.

(Image: Felinka Mouse, 2013, 
unique hand-sewn sculpture made from a mixture of fabric, paper, wire and plastic details.)

High and Low

Mouse hole. The tiny upside-down parabola-shaped opening found indoors or out, at the base of a wall where it meets the floor or the ground. The same-shaped hatch, found over the past century in thousands of cartoons, has provided an escape for thousands of mice. How many times, as a kid, did I watch Tom chase Jerry back into his hole? (More times than I should have, had my mother known I was watching so much TV.)

So joyfully I’ve stumbled upon these two mouse holes pictured here that are both witty and surprising. But that’s where the similarity ends. There is a difference between the two holes rendered that’s not necessarily small. One might be considered high art, the other low. One has been found in fine art galleries and major museums, the other in the streets of a city.

Mousehole is a pristine ink-on-paper drawing that its creator, the Berlin-based British artist Ceal Floyer, carefully places on the floor, leaning it against a wall. Although there’s a momentary trick-of-the-eye, the eye is never tricked. That the hole is on a piece of paper is obvious. We’re told Floyer’s paper works are about gesture, about how her drawing changes the paper’s function. Floyer is known for her ‘elegant wit,’ for taking ready-made objects and turning them into three-dimensional ‘cerebral’ wordplays, challenging viewers to ‘renegotiate’ their perceptions of the everyday as well as the space that encircles them.

The Red Carpet-ed mouse hole, on the other hand, is a work without explanation. It’s the work of the once anonymous celebrated British street artist who goes by the pseudonym Bansky—whose true identity gave the Brits something to ponder over, for more than a decade it seems. From the moment he started, back in the 1990s, covering exteriors in London and Bristol surreptitiously with his spray-painted images, he set people on edge. He was criticized by the authorities for using his art to make anti-authoritarian statements, and to ‘vandalize’ buildings; and criticized by the artist community for using stencils; and eventually criticized for ‘establishing a brand,’ for becoming “a commercial success by condemning consumer culture.”[1] That being said at the heart of his work is what street art—before the boundaries of the graffiti sub-culture became blurred—is all about: That art can be made by anyone, that art is for everyone.

No matter the high-low discussion, there is one thing here that isn’t up for debate: Neither mouse hole can be used by a mouse.


[1] Alex Altman, “Bansky: An Artist Unmasked, Time, July 21, 2008.

Other sources: Lisson Gallery website; “Ceal Floyer, Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami,” ArtForum, Jan.-Feb. 2010; “Ceal Floyer: Works on Paper,” Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, 2011; Duncan McLaren, “How I became a mouse for a moment and joined in an art work,” The Independent, March 4, 2001; Christopher Knight, “MOCA’s ‘Art in the Streets’ gets the big picture wrong,” The Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2011; “Bansky, Damien Hirst Works Draws High Prices in London, The Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2012.

(Mousehole, 1994, A4 paper size; images reproduced for non-commercial use only.)