Fags, Birds and a Couple of Guns: A retrospective of the weird and wonderful Nancy Fouts

Exit Jesus © Nancy Fouts. All images courtesy of the artist and Hang-Up Gallery

Exit Jesus © Nancy Fouts. All images courtesy of the artist and Hang-Up Gallery

American-born artist Nancy Fouts, who sadly passed away last April, is best known for her distinctive sculptural works, which reconfigure ordinary objects and materials with subjective and playful humour.

Her work brings together seemingly disconnected items, religious artefacts, creatures and symbols to create bizarre juxtapositions of the everyday, wickedly funny taxidermy sculptures, and even giving Old Master paintings a surreal twist. The artist described her approach to gleaning ideas as "beachcombing", rediscovering the familiar with a perspective that she likened to childhood naivety.

Now you can reflect on the 'modern-day surrealist' and discover more of her wild imagination, wit and generosity of spirit in a retrospective of her work at Hang-Up Gallery in London. Fags, Birds and a Couple of Guns launches on 28 February at the gallery's new space on the Regent's Canal in Hoxton.

Curator James Putnam, said: "Her deliciously infectious smile and dry wit made her a magnet for artists and curators of all ages, coupled with her talent for throwing unforgettable parties at her art-filled Camden house."

Working closely with the artist's estate, the Hang-Up retrospective will feature work spanning several decades, including some of her best-loved sculptures and framed works alongside unseen pieces from her converted vicarage home and studio space in Camden.

Cathryn Wright, the executor of Nancy's estate, says: "Nancy's retrospective brings together a fabulous collection of her artworks from past to present to make what is sure to be a suitably weird and eclectic exhibition. It will be the first major show of her works since her death last year, and we are delighted to be working with Hang-Up Gallery for what will certainly be a fitting tribute to an extraordinary woman."

Born in 1945, Fouts graduated from Chelsea School of Art in the 1960s, then attended the Royal College of Art, while painting shopfronts in Carnaby Street, for the likes of Lord Kitchener's Valet. In 1968 she co-founded the pioneering design and model-making company Shirt Sleeve Studio and won the Designers and Art Directors Associations Gold Award for Most Outstanding Artwork in 1973. She created seminal ad campaigns for Silk Cut, British Airways, and Virgin, and designed album covers for bands including Manfred Mann, and Steeleye Span. The record sleeve for Steeleye Span Commoners Crown won the 1976 award for Best Designed British Album Sleeve. She directed an artist-run gallery in London which opened in 1989 and went on to exhibit in London, Venice, Denmark and Brussels.

Ben Cotton, the founder of Hang-Up Gallery, adds: "I was lucky enough to be introduced to Nancy's work around ten years ago and instantly became both a fan and a collector. Her wicked sense of humour shines through in all her pieces, and it's impossible not to be drawn in. It is, therefore, a real honour for the Hang-Up Gallery and me to have the opportunity to show her works in this retrospective."

Bird Trap © Nancy Fouts

Bird Trap © Nancy Fouts

Bird in Fan © Nancy Fouts

Bird in Fan © Nancy Fouts

Shit © Nancy Fouts

Shit © Nancy Fouts

Pigeon with Bread © Nancy Fouts

Pigeon with Bread © Nancy Fouts

Ecce Homo © Nancy Fouts

Ecce Homo © Nancy Fouts

Wine Time © Nancy Fouts

Wine Time © Nancy Fouts

Ducklings in Glass Dome © Nancy Fouts

Ducklings in Glass Dome © Nancy Fouts

Jesus Crutches © Nancy Fouts

Jesus Crutches © Nancy Fouts

A Child Rubens © Nancy Fouts

A Child Rubens © Nancy Fouts