In her sculptures, LR Vandy brings together both found and made objects in order to create a new meaning for these seemingly unrelated mediums. The artist’s ‘Hull’ series of sculptures takes model boat hulls and transforms them into masks adorned with fishing floats, porcupine quills and acupuncture needles.
The forms of the hulls allude to the transportation of commodities and the process of trade and movement, but as masks they present a transformation of identity, drawing upon the tradition of talismans, charms and amulets. The overall forms draw together these opposing forces; alluring and seemingly decorative pieces that on closer inspection provoke a sense of danger, conveying the movement and enslavement of people throughout history. Railways in LR Vandy’s work references the indentured labour of Chinese people in the mid-19th century who built the ‘Chinese Underground Railroad,’ as well as reference to the ‘Underground Railroad’ of the same period, which was a series of routes and safe-houses created to help African Americans escape slavery in the South to free States in the North.
The use of railways also references railroads from the 20th century, such as the 250-mile rail link the Japanese built using prisoners of war as labourers during WWII. The railroad between Thailand and Burma was worked on by Allied prisoners of war as well as Asian labourers. In more recent history, the railways mark the perilous journeys made by migrants travelling to Calais in an attempt to enter the United Kingdom.