Saturday, May 26, 2012

Get Carta

My curatorial debut, opening June 7th.

"Now this is the map of the district, and by the markings you can see where I hope to find what I seek..."
- Tom Swift in the Land of Wonders, or, The Underground Search for the Idol of Gold, Victor Appleton, 1917

GET CARTA brings together eight contemporary artists linked by their use of mapping in their varied practices concerned with social, political and cultural structures. However, rather than simply present artists who use the form, or the 'look' of the map, GET CARTA aims more specifically to investigate the artists' use of, or reliance on, explorations carried out by others.Cally Trench explores her local community by using the traditional convention of the aerial view, prepared by carrying out an investigation of her immediate area at ground level, however it is the areas she is denied access to that are the focus of this work, a network of local privacies. Stephen Walter's mapping of Liverpool, a place previously unknown to him, was made by speaking to the city's inhabitants: his graphite mapping of the city filled with a density of public and personal stories. Claire Brewster's art transforms the ordinary boundaries of nature and territory. Animal and plant life is remodelled in cut-up maps that have a simple fragility, the filigree paper cuts enabling a setting free of nature normally locked into distinct habitats. Vanessa Rolf uses embroidery on reclaimed fabrics to record notional voyages in the lonely wastes of Siberia, and the expanse of the arctic circle: specifically Norvik, one of the most northerly towns on the planet. Stephen Harwood revisits his home county via google street-view, which has now ventured out of the big cities into semi-rural England, for a series of drawings of remembered places from his childhood and adolescence. Californian artist Karen Ay's lightbox sculptures present images that originate from cracks in the pavements of her adopted home of East London, which are transformed into glowing satellite images, our ordinary surroundings imagined from space. Emma J Williams' Red Drawings are arterial roads, in fleshy pinks and reds, bleeding stained landscapes, that remind us of the lifeblood of our towns and cities, a theme continued in Susan Stockwell's wall mounted artery sculptures, an international mesh of named streets in far-flung countries.Whether such mapping belongs more to the world of fiction than fact - an artistic invention rather than a Cartographer's presentation of data - or is based on an atlas, globe or the street plan of a city or transport system, such material seems to provide a necessary framework for these artists in navigating their chosen locales as they (re)create them. The reliance may be slight or barely perceptible, a mere reference or starting point, or may be so strong and persuasive as to inhabit the form of the artist's investigation entirely. It may even provide some sort of strength of purpose.GET CARTA aims to explore how these past investigations are claimed by these artists, enabling something new to be said. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Foreign Country

Studio 1.1 at Braziers Park presents A FOREIGN COUNTRY, opening Saturday 19th May, as part of Oxfordshire Art Weeks festival

'The past is 'a Foreign Country' : they do things differently there... The title of the exhibition comes from L. P. Hartley's 'The Go-Between' and each of the three young artists' work has a peculiar relationship with the past and the passing of time. Stephen Harwood paints landscapes that are half-remembered locations from childhood, yet informed by images from the Shell Guide to England, images from a past he cannot have lived but which accompanied his family literally on childhood rides through the English countryside. Craig Andrews has assiduously photographed the decay and encroaching wilderness on the site of Liverpool's 'International Garden Festival' from the mid 80's - a decay which itself has now disappeared as the garden is newly revived. Loss and re-birth - Dai Roberts' sculptures re-work the aesthetic of the 'Festival of Britain' with a sincere desire to find new forms from old and breathe them back to vibrant life.


New Shell Guide Paintings

From an ongoing series of paintings based on John Piper's photographs in Piper/Betjeman's Shell Guide to Shropshire, Faber & Faber, 1951; the titles are the original captions from the book, anchoring the images back to their source. I will be showing them in A FOREIGN COUNTRY, opening this Saturday at Braziers Park, organised by Studio 1.1.

Characteristic detail at CHURCH STRETTON (2012)
Oil on canvas, 35 x 30cm

Looking W. over LLAN-Y-BLODWELL (2012)
Oil on canvas, 75 x 65cm

The ruined mansion, MORETON CORBETT (2012)
Oil on canvas, 75 x 65cm

One kind of Shropshire scenery. CARDINGMILL VALLEY II (2012)
Oil on canvas, 75 x 65cm