Brilliant Shadow Arts by Tim Noble and Sue Webster

British-born and -based artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster skilfully skirt the boundaries between beauty and the shadowier aspects of humanity, playing with our perceptions as well as our notions of taste. Many of their most notable pieces are made from piles of rubbish, with light projected against them to create a shadow image entirely different to that seen when looking directly at the deliberately disguised pile.


Real Life is Rubbish, 2002*

The trash pile in this piece is constructed out of studio instead of everyday waste. Tools that the artists would eventually run out of – like a screwdriver that serves as Noble's nose – and discarded items such as used up brass polish are piled together. Out of the apparent jumble of chaos, two perfectly formed silhouettes of the artists emerge.


Dirty White Trash (With Gulls), 1998*

Six months' worth of household waste plus a pair of dead seagulls comprise the heap of refuse. It's no accident that it took the couple a further six months to make the piece, during which time they were eating and consuming – as you do. On the wall, the shadow figure self-portraits of the artists take a break with a cigarette and a glass of wine.


HE/SHE, 2003*

This piece looks to display shadows of Noble and Webster urinating is less shocking given that the artists have often chosen to deal with ostensibly cruder themes in their collaborative work.


Metal Fucking Rats With Heart Shaped Tail, 2007*

Not all of Noble and Webster's work uses low grade materials drawn from the rubbish dump or the scrap yard – like this welded scrap metal piece of rat love. No, some of it borrows from the aesthetics of the shopping mall or the Las Vegas light show, with flashing displays and gaudy neon inspired by some of the most crass that culture has to offer. As far as the artists are concerned, it's all worth recycling.


Dark Stuff, 2008*

The sculptures are composed of 189 mummified animals (67 field mice, 5 adult rats, 42 juvenile rats, 44 garden shrews, 1 fox, 1 squirrel, 1 weasel, 13 carrion crows, 7 jackdaws, 1 blackbird, 1 sparrow, 1 robin, 1 toad, 1 gecko, 3 garden snail shells).


The Crack, 2004*

This is possibly the most difficult of the artists’ shadow works to decipher. Instead of focusing on the usual black silhouettes cast on the wall, the viewer must instead focus on the white space around the shadow, which reveals the naked bodies of the artists facing each other.


* Written by Karl Fabricius


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