Jessica Shiel Presents Luke Burton


10-29 October 2022

Artist's Preview Tue 11th October 6-8pm

At Robert Young Antiques


Luke Burton presents Bow, the latest exhibition in the Contemporary Collaborations series, which sees artists respond to works from the Robert Young Antiques collection. In a display curated by Jessica Shiel.

Burton will be creating new vitreous enamel works exploring the symbolism found within embroidered ship portraits, created by sailors during their time away from sea.  

Burton’s ongoing series of figurative enamels, Ships in Gentle Trouble, will form the central narrative of the exhibition. Playing with a scale perhaps unfamiliar to the Robert Young Antiques window, these miniature works will draw the eye in, demanding closer inspection of their intricate design and the questions posed therein.  

As with so many depictions of ships throughout Art History, there is no crew seen to populate these scenes. This absence might make us question the purpose and destination of these vessels. Are they ghost ships, abandoned ships, or perhaps sleeping ships? If these ships are indeed crewed, the scenes depict seas of relative calm, easily navigable by even an inexperienced captain. Therefore, might the trouble on board be of a more interpersonal, political, or even mutinous kind?

Surrounding these more figurative works will be a series of glimmering, turquoise enamels. Their transparent surfaces imply a body of water, but one that has been enclosed and rendered portable, like an archaeological fragment or jewel, designed and displayed to tempt the passer-by. The seductive nature of a shop window, which has been dressed with a certain deceptive theatricality, is also reflected in the title of the show itself. Here, Bow refers to the front of a ship, but also to a ribbon, implying a final, decorative flourish. The effect created by these luminous works may be that of a space more akin to an enticing jeweller’s window, but there is some unknown trouble that meets the lingering viewer, however gentle it may or may not be.  

Luke Burton’s practice sits at the confluence of contemporary art and craft, examining the symbolism found within decorative visual culture. Having completed his BA in Painting at Chelsea College of Art (2005) and his MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art (2013), he has exhibited internationally, with recent exhibitions including a Commission for Girton College, Cambridge, (2022); Capital Spring Returns, Gallery Woong, Seoul (2022); Impossible Weather, Bosse & Baum, London (2020).


Jessica Shiel is a curator based in London. She is the Arts Manager for the organisation Vital Arts, where she manages a programme of site-specific and patient-responsive art commissions across five hospitals in east London. Previously, she managed Multiplied Art Fair, a prints and editions fair at Christie’s South Kensington.