Precession

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Gallery Exhibition 14th February – 8th March 2014

An Unexpected Wobble

Alan Franklin’s drawings originate from simple, familiar processes and repetitive mark making, but result in works that are temptingly intriguing, delightfully unexpected and profoundly meditative.  The idea of a wobble suggests an unpredictable, or perhaps an accidental divergence from a dynamic system.  Franklin’s works play subtly with the fault in a rule, or a slip from the expected. 

By combining a playful use of ordinary materials (such as elastic bands, birdseed, salt or sugar) with simple, pre-determined processes, Franklin embarks upon a drawing.  Certain initial or ongoing conditions (such as the availability or cost of a material, the ambient temperature that will affect the flow of ink from a biro, or the random choice of colours from a box of paints) begin to cause events (wobbles), which create surprise and visual interest.  Franklin is mindful of such determinants, allowing the unexpected, and even conspiring to invite a particular cause to create a startling effect.  This inventive and whimsical approach is the hallmark of all his work.

‘I want my work to stray or wander away from what we think we know in order to be surprised – not by something new, but by something which is already there.’

Similar to a wobbling spinning-top, precession means a gravity-induced, slow, and continuous change in the orientation of an astronomical body’s rotational axis.  In particular, it refers to the gradual shift in the orientation of the Earth’s axis of rotation.  The exhibition title Precession comes from Franklin’s interest in the physics of the universe and the interconnection of all things – sometimes referred to as the butterfly effect.

Alan Franklin is Senior Lecturer  was awarded an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College in 1983 and has since exhibited his work, mainly his sculpture, on an international arena from London to Japan.  He has completed residences in remote locations such as Iceland, Poland and the Grizedale Forest in Cumbria.  This is one of the first occasions that Franklin has exhibited his drawings.

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The art of making drawing

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Alan Franklin, speaking at One Church Street Gallery about his work in the exhibition Precession
6th March 2014

I enjoy questioning the world we live in and responding to that.  For example, what colour is the universe?  Take time to work it out.  We are no better off knowing that the universe is turquoise, but it’s a good thought playing with these questions and thinking ‘What if…’

After nearly 30 years of making 3D pieces, I wanted to make drawings like flat sculptures.  After all, drawing is much more convenient for storage.  I draw on a square to avoid references to landscape or portraits.  The brown paper around the edges refers to the making of the drawing, where I have stretched the paper, and so the edges do not refer to the edge of the paper and the thing in the middle feels like it can be lifted off.   There is a game to be played between illusion and not illusion.  I don’t intend to make an illusion of space in my drawings but I believe rules are there to be stretched.  I like the term ‘making a drawing’ and using materials in an unconventional way.

Looking at Eight by Four, mdf, iron wire, 1994 (see picture above).  Originally I was working a lot with mdf, constructing different things.  I was spending a lot of time going to builder’s timber yards and buying sheets of 8×4 mdf.  At that time I was thinking, ‘well, if we buy all our sheet materials in this unit size, it’s not surprising that our rooms and buildings end up as variations on a box’ and I thought, ‘well okay so I’ll take an 8×4 sheet of mdf and I’ll make it flexible; I’ll stop it being a flat sheet and make it somehow more organic’.  I improvised a mechanism for doing that.  The surprise or the thing that makes the work for me occurred as a result of the making.  After I’d cut up all the units and I’d drilled holes, this way and that way, and started to thread them onto the wire, I found that the friction was so great that it was too difficult to get the wire all the way through.  So I then drilled out the larger holes in 50% of the pieces, just to reduce the friction and enable me to get the pliers in there and pull.  So it was by solving the problem and coming up with a solution that visually made the piece successful for me. It’s those little things that happen as a result of the making.

Looking at #50, black graphite on paper, 615 x 615mm, where I use a stencil (a mask) to keep the graphite in that area but the graphite dust just falls and comes through at the bottom there.  My first thought was to rub that out, and then the second thought was that actually no, that’s what I like – it reveals a little bit about the process of the making.  And that happens quite often, I think.  It becomes a sort of strategy – you know that if you do something in a certain way it’s going to create these little blips and it’s thinking about those processes and strategies to encourage the wobbles.

Some drawings are more successful than others.  Why do I like some drawings more than others?  Something seems to happen with some drawings where I get a little bit more of a surprise than I had expected.  It takes me on a journey because while I’m drawing and a surprise happens, I’m thinking about what the rule will be for the next drawing and considering what if.  Time, labour and love are adopted for the sake of the journey and hope that it will result in some sort of quality.  Maybe I’ve come full circle and I now have an urge to make sculpture more drawn.  I’ll follow the journey wherever it may take me.

Alan Franklin

 

 

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Pinpoint exhibition review

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Exhibition Review

Written by Gwen Hedley

17th October 2013

One Church Street is a wonderfully light and airy gallery, affording an intimate space that is entirely right for this exhibition of contemporary miniature works. The selectors sought to cross the boundaries of artistic practice, by including a diversity of material, technique or process. This they have done admirably, and the fifty-five works shown are rich and varied. The common denominator is that none is more than 20x20x20 cms.

The scale of the works is beguiling – each piece demands close inspection, and benefits from being devoid of any frame and glazing that could detract or create a barrier between viewer and exhibit. The works sit well within their generous spaces, whether wall-hung, or freestanding on plinths set at various heights.

Familiar traditional textile techniques are employed, but by their execution and the underpinning concepts of the works, the exhibition is entirely contemporary. In addition to the time-honoured textile materials of cloth and yarn, there is ample evidence of sensitively-used non-traditional materials, including lead, steel and concrete.

Ann Goddard’s mixed media sculptures reflect her concern regarding ecological issues and the impact of human activity on biodiversity. ‘Encroaching’ depicts a soft cotton, bristled form’ embedded within a small tortuous concrete mass – is it emerging or burrowing? The viewer must decide. The second piece entitled ‘Remains’ is constructed with cotton fabric, thread, wax and wire, and sits firmly and strongly alongside its companion sculpture. Manipulated cloth shapes are speared onto wires that protrude into space. These sculptures are tiny in scale, but powerful and strong in message and presence.

‘Cone’ is stunning in its simple directness, and beauty of mark. Referencing physical traces of history within cloth, Ali Holloway has immersed a full cone of thread in dye, before unravelling the thread, resulting in an empty cardboard cone that bears the dyed marks and herringbone-like patterning of the previously wound thread. The marks and historical traces leave an intriguing ghostly presence.

Emma Blackburn’s work has a historical basis, involving the staining and decomposition of ancient cloth that bears traces of human life. ‘ Without You’ 1 and 2 is a pair of child’s gloves, in which cloth and stitch are dominant. The gloves lie casually arranged, as if recently removed. They are faded and worn, heavily stitched with a variety of threads, and evoke images of poverty and labour, but also of love, through constant repair with robust utilitarian stitches. They call out to be handled.

Crux 1, an intriguing wall hung piece by Sarah Burgess, is concerned with repair and renewal, and a consideration of inherent beauty within imperfection. A bold twig with its sinuous tendril incompletely wrapped in fine scarlet thread, extends beyond and stands proud of the ground, on which a sensitively printed offset shadow gives great visual depth. In contrast to the delicate tendril, two robust ceramic shards, held on with thread appear to be slipping from the lower edge of the work. This thoughtful piece speaks of strength, fragility, repair and renewal, and makes for compulsive viewing.

Repair also features in ‘Darn’ and ‘Fragment’ by Stella Adams-Schofield – works that make for contemplative viewing. Her work is rooted in British textile craft, and these stop-animation pieces capture the time element in the making and mending of textiles. I had several viewings, and relished the somewhat mesmeric stitch rhythms, being fully engaged and feeling the artist’s total involvement with her practice.

Standing with a simple elegance upon a tall plinth is Gizella Warburton’s ‘Ritual Form’. A slab of weathered oak with three adjacent loosely wrapped bindings provides the base on which at one end, stands a beautifully pure bowl form. Three raised lines within the inside rim of the bowl echo those on the oak support. In contrast to its smooth interior the bowl’s exterior surface features the painted texture of very loosely woven cloth. Dark on the undersides, the colour gradually pales to white at its stiffly ragged rim. Reminiscent of natural forms, I had to resist the urge to gently cup it in my hands.

Altogether different feelings are evoked by Sue Stone’s ‘The Universal Child’. The artist’s work on recycled linen, reminds us of the senseless futility of on-going religious and sectarian wars, and especially of the physical and emotional damage done to children. Machine stitched graffiti and hand stitched figures are poignant, and the messages moving. Every stitch symbolises thousands of lost lives, whilst the cross stitches in particular represent kisses that will never be received. This is a powerful piece of work, perhaps made even more so, by the fact that its unsettling message is conveyed through the cosy and comforting medium of old linen and basic domestic stitch to which we can readily relate.

Space does not permit a written appreciation of each exhibit, yet to have selected a few does not really do justice to the exhibition, for Pinpoint is a cohesive body of work in which each piece is an important part of the whole. It is extremely well presented, elegant, thoughtful and spacious, exemplifying the phrase ‘less is more’.

This excellent exhibition dances on the ground that is the delicate divide between fine art and fine craft, and does so in resounding style.

Gwen Hedley is a member of the Textile Study Group and the Society of Designer Craftsmen. She is a freelance lecturer, tutor and artist working in the UK, Sweden, France, Germany, Ireland and Japan. Her work is in public and private collections and she is the author of publications, including ‘Drawn to Stitch’ and ‘Surfaces for Stitch’.

Pinpoint exhibition review 2019-03-27T09:39:16+00:00

Suspense

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Gallery Exhibiton 11th May – 1st June 2013

Suspense brings together, for the first time, the work of four distinguished artists with both national and international reputations, Simon Finn, Dean Randazzo, Ruth Simons and Jayne Wilton.  For Finn and Randazzo this will be the UK première of their work.  The suspension of time, space and physical mass and the recording of ‘frozen moments’ are recurrent themes in the work of all these artists.  Each, in their own way, explores and records matter in motion and changing material states, in media which include drawing, sculpture, photography and animation.

Regardless of the apparent diversity of their practices, George Mogg, curator of Suspense and the Beldam Gallery at Brunel University, saw connections in the work of these artists; how they observe and record the chaos, patterns and randomness of natural, untamable forces and use their art to express and try to make sense of the complex and baffling.  What she has put together is a show of contrasts and connections, the macro and the micro, cutting-edge technology alongside traditional art processes, where meticulous craftsmanship meets reckless or organic action to retell a story of transformation and disruption.  Despite these polarities, Suspense promises to be an exhibition of remarkable coherence.

THE WORK

Through complex digital modelling, rendering and physics computation, Simon Finn freezes single moments in time before extrapolating them to intricate charcoal drawings, signed, limited edition prints of which will be exhibited as part of Suspense. These constructed moments of destruction combine meaning, process and form, as seen in recent subject matter which include a pier mid-collapse, a tsunami at point of impact and an unfurling black flag. The subject matter and its treatment tease out the duality between the tangible and the simulated, raising questions concerning aesthetics in an image-saturated world.

Dean Randazzo’s work explores the human, cultural and emotional relationships of the photographic act through holographic reliquaries, projections of images into dust, insect swarms and vapour.

House is one of a series of images created from time exposures of dust clouds lit up with projections of old family photographs. A family member made the picture of their house with figures standing in front; the act of making that image implies a doubt as to its permanence and it seems photography is our futile attempt at arresting this change and uncertainty. The process of making House documents a ritual; the dust acts as an ephemeral screen, making the image visible and releasing it back to where it came.

In Family Portrait, individual faces rise on the eddies and currents of air and dust creating the separate shafts of light. Randazzo says that making this photograph was a ritual of sorts; returning the original image back to light.

Ruth Simons’ practice examines the universe at both macro and micro levels, exploring chaos as the boundary between pattern and randomness. These emerging themes are investigated through drawing, print, bookworks and installation. Her drawings and installations explore the simultaneous simplicity and complexity of the universe and apparent randomness that belies the self-generating and self-similar patterns concealed within the intricacy of life.

The work showing in Suspense is called Kunststoff (German for plastic) – Unnatural History and explores materiality, structure and growth patterns, generating organic forms from inorganic materials and manmade objects.  Appearing to be objects from the natural world, yet made from synthetic materials, Simons’ work raises questions about our relationship with nature, touching on issues of ecology, mutation and climate change.

Jayne Wilton’s work explores universal breathing gestures such as the sigh, the laugh, spoken words and the gasp. Through it she attempts to record and make visible unseen and ephemeral processes.

The Drawing Breath series captures a trace of a human breath using dark room processes to record the breath as it is expired. The breath passes through a light source and is caught on sensitised paper. These images become evocative records of moments in time; opportunities to witness the interaction between our inner and outer landscapes. By making visible, the invisible, Drawing Breath allows an exploration of the dynamics of how we impact on our environment, both physically and emotionally.

For Wilton’s recent new work I Am Here Now, each individual black and red glass sphere is an image of a unique moment where an individual word was spoken.  Using the optical Schlieren system, the words I Am Here Now were spoken in front of a mirror whilst Wilton photographically recorded the patterns of turbulence caused by warm breath in cold air.

She will also be showing Overstanding – a visual recording, translated into digital sculpture, of the word “overstanding”, spoken by the poet Benjamin Zepheniah; Zephanih fell in love with this word, feeling it overcame the shortcomings and potentially patronising limitations of the word ‘understanding’. On hearing that this piece was to be included in the exhibition, he explained to us

“‘overstanding’ transcends ‘understanding’ by incorporating the qualities of empathy, humility and compassion. It implies a sense of overview, and a wider or broader comprehension of a phenomena.

 

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Landscape and Anxiety

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Gallery Exhibition 15-29 September 2012

This exhibition showcases the work of the distinguished artists and curatorial partnership, Anne Eggebert and Polly Gould. Their works explore the anxiety surrounding existential human questions of how we find our place in the world and takes a look at the representation of place and space as both threatened and threatening. Some of the work in this exhibition was shown in TOPOPHOBIA, a touring exhibition conceived and curated by Eggebert-and-Gould as one of their collaborative curatorial projects.

Anne Eggebert’s pieces use highly detailed drawing as a device to collapse distance and time. Working with images from Google Earth, she makes repeated hatch marks to explore distant landscapes, places which were once familiar which are no longer visited.

Polly Gould makes distorted topographical paintings which reflect on to the surface of silver globes. By painting Antarctic watercolour landscapes on sand-blasted glass she constructs miniature inverted panoramas, which, when reflected on the surface of the mirrored hand-blown spheres. assume proper proportions and perspective and appear as little worlds from elsewhere.

Anne Eggebert and Polly Gould were judges for One Church Street’s photography open submission 2011, Photosensitive.

Eggebert’s fine art practice encompasses photography, sound, video, drawing and teletechnologies to interrogate how our subjective and objective realities construct our understanding and performance of place (both local and distant). She is a senior lecturer in fine art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts, London.

Recent work by fine artist and writer, Gould has been particularly concerned with the spatialisation of memory, landscape and mourning. In 2008 she was selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize and in 2010, was awarded AHRC funding for her doctoral study ‘No More Elsewhere: Melancholia, Subjectivity, Landscape’,

As a collaborative team, Eggebert-and-Gould, have completed a number of art and curatorial projects. These include Nature and Nation: vaster than empires, their ACE funded group exhibition of international artists and associated publication, exploring legacies of botanical collecting and colonial histories in contemporary art.

Their most recent project – TOPOPHOBIA (an irrational dread of certain places or situations) toured the UK from the Danielle Arnuaud Gallery, London, to the Bluecoat, Liverpool, and Spacex, Exeter, during the spring and summer 2012. It was funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and included the work of eight other artists, Matze Einhoff, David Ferrando Giraut, Marja Helander, Uta Kogelsberger, Abigail Reynolds, Almut Rink, Emily Speed and Louise K Wilson.

 

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Out of Line

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Gallery Exhibition 16 Oct – 5 Nov 2011

Review

Drawing breath & Chinese whispers
Winners of the 2010 One Church Street Open Drawing Submission

One Church Street Gallery encourages artists to explore and push their creativity as far as they can, so entrants to this nationwide open submission were urged to interpret drawing as broadly as possible. Joe Graham’s and Jayne Wilton’s work particularly impressed the judges in taking both the concept and physicality of drawing into exciting and unexpected territory.

At first glance, there might not appear to be an obvious relationship between the drawings of Graham and Wilton; in Graham’s work the process is the concept, whereas Wilton’s processes are suggested by the concept. Yet, looking more intently and reading what the artists had written, more and more parallels are discovered. The intentional use of chance and accident are features of both artists’ work as are fragility and delicacy. Both push their processes to the nth degree. Each marks the temporality of their work, seeking to tie down a moment by embodying traces of it in their drawings, Graham by building and discarding marks in stages, and Wilton by immortalising the transience of breath in delicate records of instants in time.

Jayne Wilton and Joe Graham were selected from a juried submission of over 700 works about drawing in 2010. 

During the exhibition, Jayne worked with 20 people to immortalize their breath on copper plate. Jayne also did this in her residency at Heals in London. Her book, Breath(e) is presently on sale at the Tate and the V&A including the images of the copperplates.

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