Author Archives: Shaun Caton

About Shaun Caton

Shaun Caton is a British performance artist and painter, who has created over 280 live performances worldwide since the early 1980s. Often characterised by extreme duration (some performances have lasted 3 weeks) or brevity (some performances just 17 minutes), his works incorporate the installation of ancient and organic items, with the making of gigantic paintings, often illuminated by ultraviolet lighting. These works strongly reflect prehistoric or apocalyptic imagery. Caton's work evolved through the 1980s gradually forming the ritualistic hallmark that he has come to be recognised and associated with. His work is deeply informed by a study of Ice Age cave art and portable art, and in 2007/2008 he visited many of the painted caves in the Dordogne region of France. Caton studied at Winchester School of Art and Goldsmith's London, and became interest in experimenting with living art and the human body. His work is emotional and operates on many levels employing specially created soundtracks (composed in collaboration with sound artists brownsierra), altered lighting conditions, use of shadow play with puppetry, live action and sculptural installation. He has also used smell as an intrinsic aspect of his performances to evoke a primordial atmosphere. The performances shares an affinity with the activities and cosmological work of shamans, the complex symbolism of alchemy, and a knowledge of prehistoric art. In many ways, it is evocative of the concept of the wunderkammer or the 17th century Cabinet of Curiosities – it frequently uses paradox. A typical performance may last up to 7 hours, during which time Caton creates hundreds of automatic drawings, which are often obliterated and turned into new images. Caton has amassed a considerable array of props that he animates in his performances, such as: huge stuffed fish heads, petrified tree fungi, lead and pewter medieval toys/pilgrim's badges, ceramic shards, fossils, bones, masks, ancient dolls, Victorian photographs. His performances are recognisable by their obsessive use of multi-layering and vivid colours – whereas, his paintings are often in a muted palette of browns, blues, greys and blacks. Recently he made hundreds of minuscule drawings that could only be viewed with a magnifying lens in ultraviolet light.

Bury Me The Mask – Article 2014

Magazine article published in Mobile 3, November 2014. With inserts by Andrew Cochrane.

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Looking At The Watchers

In exploring the grotesque I am encountering new epiphanies in photographs found online or in obsolete books. The selective eye screens thousands, hundreds of thousands of images before, like a fly it settles on something choice to feed upon and …

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Codes of Conduct

Performance with Christopher Mollon. North Beach, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK. Friday 1st August 2014. Duration: 4 hours. Photographs copyright 2014 Graham Thirkill.

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Sleight of Hand

Whilst visiting Rome I stumbled across a curious painting by a follower of Hieronymus Bosch called ‘The Conjourer’ (c.1475-80) in an extraordinary exhibition, tucked away in a 16th century palazzo just a few streets from the Pantheon. There are at …

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Towards a new barbarism of expression – Essay March 2014

Notes from the Zone: Towards a new barbarism of expression. Some notes about prehistoric art objects, images and notions about shamanism/performance art.

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Bury Me The Mask – Essay 2013

Shaun Caton with inserts by Andrew Cochrane. Shaun Caton: I have been making performances since my childhood, when I created a secret world, with impossibly obsessive rules. A world of bizarre croaking languages, confined spaces full of weeds, broken glass …

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