Ally Sloper

2013/2022

tempered polished glass
installation dims variable

Series: Glazed I’s

"Ally Sloper is a very powerful, yet elegant demonstration of how an artist can draw a viewer in, hold their attention, and cause them to reflect and respond to not only the sculpture itself, but the surrounding space it occupies." (Prof. Mark Swain, Juror Chicago Sculpture International 2014)

Pairing the glamour of glass and the allure of transparency with brilliant reflections and stark geometry, Ally Sloper arcs between wall and floor. Neither wall sculpture nor freestanding object, the abstract figure operates as a hybrid form. It mindfully creates a protective shield, claiming space in the room. Like a futuristic shelter it manifests as an ethereal arch, a crystal-clear rainbow, an inviting passage - defining an ‘alley’ with its polished edge. 

Titled after the satiric Ally Sloper, a super-star Victorian cartoon character depicted lounging in alleys and bending social rules, the sculpture describes an elusive presence. The working class hero was potentially the first mass-merchandised fictional icon, a subversive character sliding between worlds – equally a protagonist and an object of desire. As a gender-free pronoun, ‘Ally Sloper’ investigates personality as affect and form as a conduit. The I-glass curves like a phonetic eye, obscuring distinctions between object/subject and viewer. Imagining the glistening show-case in Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project, the figure mediates between inside and out, a display of desire and ego, situating the individual as merchandise in the commodification of things.

In filtered light, the authorial-I describes an(other) ghostly presence, seen also in I-shadows cascading down the wall. This absence conjures the silent authorship of Marie Duval, potentially Europe’s first woman cartoonist who was instrumental in developing the super-star Ally Sloper character with her husband, novelist Charles Henry Ross, but only recently recognised as an author.