Axisweb Selects: Amelia Crouch

Sheila McGregor

Amelia Crouch’s video work sees outdated manners performed in a picturesque landscape. With an exhibition currently at The Hepworth, Wakefield, she’s our final Axisweb Selects artist.

Artist Amelia Crouch uses print, video and installation to explore the relationship between visual and verbal communication. Her latest video piece, Nor stamp hard on the ground neither, entertainingly revisits the manners of a bygone age, with a group of performers enacting and sometimes disobeying the instructions contained in an 18th century book of etiquette, Adam Petrie’s Rules of Good Deportment or of Good Breeding (1720). The artist choreographs their movements in the setting of a landscape designed by Capability Brown for what was once the site of Whitley Beaumont House in Kirklees.

When researching the historical background, Crouch latched onto the landscape architect’s description of his own creative process as something akin to an act of literary composition: “Now there’ said he, pointing his finger, ‘I make a comma, and there,’ pointing to another spot, ‘where a more decided turn is proper, I make a colon; at another part, where an interruption is desirable to break the view, a parenthesis; now a full stop, and then I begin another subject.” (Capability Brown in conversation with Mrs Hannah More, 1782)

A piece that lays bare the constructed nature of a seemingly natural landscape

This gave Crouch the perfect starting point for a piece that lays bare the constructed nature of Brown’s seemingly natural landscape, whilst simultaneously investigating the social, political and philosophical codes that dictate how human beings interact with their surroundings, and with one another.

“I hope the video is also quite funny,” Crouch says. “The performers in the piece are untrained and they mix male and female people of different ages. One thing I didn’t anticipate is that their awkwardness works quite well. They look a bit stilted and I think this conveys the idea of walking and of social identity being something that is performed.”

Nor stamp hard on the ground neither is on show until 31 May at The Calder, the new contemporary art space adjoining The Hepworth Wakefield, where Crouch’s fellow exhibitors, Giles Bailey and Ruth Lyons, are also showing work inspired by Capability Brown. Entitled The Follies of Youth, the exhibition forms part of a larger project by a pioneering collective of artists, designers, researchers and curators, who are working with visual arts organisation Pavilion to map heritage landscapes in West Yorkshire.

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