Although the meat trays are a departure, there are common threads that vein throughout Gardner’s work. A passion for drawing, the black mark on paper, black the atrophy of white. The meat tray works are all heavy with the connotations of what black means; the gothic, the shadow, the dark night, evil, the monument. Gardner admits an interest in the macabre as a common strand. Early work used human hair to draw and make images with. Hair was used during Victorian times in lockets, or as bouquets, a symbol of something eternal - fashioning the body into something it is not. Paper cutting - another Victorian past time and the intricate leatherwork rosettes of saddles are also referenced. While making obvious connections to the reality of meat trays, Gardner also pays homage to the unseen domestic craft of Victorian women.
Prime formerly called Rosette had its origins in a work called The Butcher’s Wife. Over time this form became headless and all that is left is the silhouette of a frock erupting rosettes whilst toy like boxes stand sentinel in the foreground. Other works feature plastic bear noses dotted on the surface, smelling us or themselves; others are invaded by plastic eyes suggesting swarms of bugs hovering over fresh meat. It is unsettling, Gardner’s gift of vision to the silhouette - an art form that is formally blind.
- Greg Donson
→ Andrea Gardner: Prime, 2004, publication