Bruce Asbestos: OK! Cherub!

22 February - 05 June 2022

The Bluecoat’s famous courtyard is home to OK! Cherub!, a group of new artworks by artist Bruce Asbestos.

Newly commissioned work by Bruce Asbestos includes three giant inflatable sculptures: a yellow worm, a collection of frogspawn and a giant arm.

Each sculpture represents, and takes its name from, a different aspect of positive mental health. A giant yellow worm represents Rest, a group of green frogspawn represents Community and a giant cartoon arm represents Connection.

The work has been developed in response to the Bluecoat's historic building and courtyard, particularly the architectural features such as the cherubs that adorn the façade.

"I love that all the large windows in the courtyard at the Bluecoat are decorated with cherubs, there are at least 40, which can often be overlooked. I liked that my sculptures are somehow new friends for the cherubs. As well as associations with love, cherubs are also representations of peace, prosperity, and leisure."
Bruce Asbestos

Inspiration for Community, the frogspawn, came from the artist’s lockdown walks to the local park where there was frogspawn in the pond, and finding it symbolic of togetherness. Rest, a worm sculpture, is inspired by Japanese Kokeshi Dolls, stylised wooden dolls with no arms or legs used as children’s toys and sold to tourists. Connection, the giant arm, is a cartoon character who symbolises reaching out to connect.

Bruce Asbestos’s work draws from a rich history of painting, sculpture, popular culture, folklore and fairy tales. His work frequently mixes everyday objects with high art, fashion, and responds to global pop culture. His interdisciplinary practice combines performance, painting, clothing, social media, video games, curating and many collaborations.

Bruce Asbestos, OK! Cherub!, Bluecoat installation view, 2022. Photo by Jo Underhill.
"I like to think that this work is essentially about different forms of Love; and that there is this sculptural conversation between my pop works and the history of Renaissance art, and the Baroque. I was also interested in making big fun sculptures that will wobble in the wind; I like that people will enjoy having selfies with a giant relaxing yellow worm."
Bruce Asbestos

Digital Programme

The Bluecoat has also commissioned ‘Eye of Newt’, an ambient environment and video game by Bruce Asbestos, which has versions of the sculptures in an ever-changing digital landscape.

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You can experience Bruce Asbestos' commission from anywhere in the world. Share your OK! Cherub! pictures with us @the_bluecoat.

A photograph of the artist Bruce Asbestos, a bearded white man, surrounded by digital drawings of green frogspawn.

"Through his shrewd use of social media, personal re-hashing of global pop culture and use of new digital technologies, he has established an unmistakable visual identity and unique brand (complete with logos) to almost become a living artwork." Art Review

This presentation is produced in collaboration with QUAD, Derby. Bruce Asbestos along with artist Seema Mattu has been awarded a QUAD International Digital Fellowship focused on the central theme of ‘Play’.