Tim Noble | Sue Webster


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Artwork by Tim Nobel - Sue Webster

Tim Noble and Sue Webster: Illuminating Shadows in Contemporary Art

In the realm of contemporary art, Tim Noble and Sue Webster stand as provocateurs, challenging conventions with their innovative use of light and shadow. This critique delves into the dynamic art style of this collaborative duo, exploring their transformative approach to sculpture and the interplay between darkness and illumination.

Artwork by Tim Nobel - Sue Webster
Artwork by Tim Nobel – Sue Webster


  • Shadow Play Mastery: Noble and Webster’s mastery lies in their ability to transform seemingly chaotic sculptures into intricate, purposeful shadow plays.
  • Transformative Art: Their art is a transformative experience, challenging perceptions and revealing hidden narratives through the interplay of light and shadow.
  • Material Commentary: By using discarded objects, the duo comments on consumption, materialism, and the ephemeral nature of possessions.
  • Cultural Hybridity: Blurring high and low culture, they bridge the gap between street art and the gallery, inviting diverse audiences into the dialogue.
  • Collaborative Dynamism: The duo’s collaboration is a driving force, creating artworks that embody the synergy between their creative visions.
Artwork by Tim Nobel - Sue Webster
Artwork by Tim Nobel – Sue Webster

Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s art style, marked by shadow play mastery, transformative experiences, and social commentary, challenges the norms of contemporary sculpture. Their ability to turn chaos into cohesion, coupled with a keen commentary on consumption, demonstrates the depth and significance of their work. As torchbearers of collaborative creativity, Noble and Webster continue to illuminate the shadows of our societal constructs, urging viewers to reconsider the narratives hidden in plain sight.

I. Shadow Play Sculptures: Noble and Webster are renowned for their mesmerizing shadow play sculptures. These works, often composed of seemingly chaotic arrangements of discarded objects, come alive when illuminated. The artists manipulate light and shadow to reveal intricate, meticulously planned silhouettes that transcend the initial chaos, providing viewers with a multi-layered and transformative visual experience.

II. Transformative Process: The duo’s art is not merely about the final product but the transformative process that occurs when light interacts with their sculptures. What may appear as a chaotic jumble of objects in daylight transforms into a meticulously crafted and purposeful shadow narrative when exposed to carefully directed light sources. This transformative nature challenges viewers to reconsider preconceived notions and embrace the unexpected.

III. Commentary on Consumption and Materialism: Noble and Webster’s choice of materials, often sourced from discarded or overlooked items, serves as a commentary on consumption and materialism. By repurposing objects that society deems as waste, the artists encourage a reflection on the value we assign to objects and the impermanence of material possessions.

IV. Blurring Boundaries between High and Low Culture: The duo’s work blurs the boundaries between high and low culture by incorporating elements of street art and found objects into gallery settings. This amalgamation challenges traditional hierarchies within the art world, inviting a broader audience to engage with their thought-provoking installations.

V. Collaborative Synergy: Noble and Webster’s collaboration is a fundamental aspect of their artistic identity. The synergy between their creative minds results in pieces that are greater than the sum of their parts. The dynamic exchange of ideas and skills contributes to the uniqueness and vitality of each work, showcasing the power of collaborative artistic endeavors.

Artwork by Tim Nobel - Sue Webster
Artwork by Tim Nobel – Sue Webster


Tim Noble and Sue Webster take ordinary things including rubbish, to make assemblages and then point light to create projected shadows which show a great likeness to something identifiable including self-portraits. The art of projection is emblematic of transformative art. The process of transformation, from discarded waste, scrap metal or even taxidermy creatures to a recognizable image, echoes the idea of ‘perceptual psychology’ a form of evaluation used for psychological patients. Noble and Webster are familiar with this process and how people evaluate abstract forms. Throughout their careers they have played with the idea of how humans perceive abstract images and define them with meaning. The result is surprising and powerful as it redefines how abstract forms can transform into figurative ones.

Parallel to their shadow investigations, Noble and Webster have created a series of light sculptures that reference iconic pop culture symbols represented in the form of shop-front-type signage and carnival shows inherent of British seaside towns, Las Vegas and Times Square. With the aid of complex light sequencing these signs perpetually flash and spiral out messages of everlasting love, and hate.

Noble & Webster have created a remarkable group of anti-monuments in their 24-year career, mixing the strategies of modern sculpture and the attitude of punk to make art from anti-art. Their work derives much of its power from its fusion of opposites, form and anti-form, high culture and anti-culture, male and female, craft and rubbish, sex and violence.

In 2009, Noble & Webster were awarded Honorary Degrees of Doctor of Art at Nottingham Trent University in recognition of their contribution to contemporary British Art and their radical influence on younger generations of artists. In 2007, they were awarded the ARKEN Prize at Arken, Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen for outstanding contribution to the international scene of contemporary art, in the same year their critically acclaimed project Polymorphous Perverse at the Freud Museum was nominated for the prestigious South Bank Prize.

Toxic Schizophrenia (Hyper Version) their first permanent public sculpture was unveiled at Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, May 2009. Previously the public art installation Electric Fountain, was exhibited at Rockefeller Plaza, New York, February 2008. In 2009 the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery selected The Head of Isabella Blow for inclusion to its permanent collection.

Since their first solo show in London, British Rubbish in 1996, Noble & Webster have enjoyed international recognition with solo exhibitions at Rockefeller Plaza, New York, 2008, The Freud Museum, London, 2006, CAC Malaga, 2005, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2004, P.S.1/MoMA, New York, 2003, Milton Keynes Gallery, UK, 2002, Deste Foundation, Athens, 2000 and The Chisenhale Gallery, London, 1999. Their work was included in Statuephilia—Contemporary Sculptors at The British Museum, London in 2008–09 and in the exhibition Apocalypse—Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art, at The Royal Academy, London, 2000.

Their work is in the permanent collections of the AISTHI Foundation, Beirut; Arken Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Artis-François Pinault, France; Berengo Studio, Venice; The British Museum, London; Dakis Joannou Collection, Athens; Es Baluard Museum, Palma, Spain; The Goss-Michael Collection, Dallas; Honart Museum, Tehran, Iran; Lyonel-Feininger Museum, Quedlinburg, Germay; Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; National Portrait Gallery, London; Nicola Erni Collection, Zug, Switzerland; The Olbricht Collection, Berlin; Project Space 176–The Zabludowicz Collection, London; Saatchi Collection, London; Samsung Museum, Seoul, Korea; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Wemhöner Collection, Germany.


Tim Noble | Sue Webster website