Yesterday, Kate 513940 and I visited the Messums Gallery in Tisbury. I have been aware for a while that this gallery was showing some interesting work, particularly to do with light and installations, and have been meaning to go for some time, but it was the lure of their current show IMAGE that finally inspired us to make the effort. And it was totally worth it. The space is huge, and divided into two main areas – the barn and the gallery, and the work is laid out beautifully. The light in the gallery is excellent, while that of the barn is darker and more evocative.
The IMAGE exhibition, their second, focused on ‘ individuality and uniqueness in the photographic medium. As a reaction to what could be described as an over saturation of the digital in contemporary society, a move toward originality and authenticity being increasingly prized elements of the way we make and consume art is prevalent.’ It could not have been more perfect a subject for me! The photographer artists on show were Julia Cockburn Alma Haser, Liz Nielsen, Tif Hunter and Tom Butler, and for contrast Pentti Sammallahti. Alongside, but in the large barn was a series and an installation by Martina Mati. All the works by the first five were unique, as in single objects which had been manipulated in some way which was not exactly replicable. I am already familiar with the work of Cockburn and Haser, which I love, but I was intrigued by Tom Butler’s series of altered Victorian calling cards. They were small (no bigger than 3×4″ish) and each one had been altered using gouache paint, either as blocks of colour to hide much of the print, or as complex abstract shapes which were laid over them. They were quite exquisite.
There were five or six Cockburns, at least one of which I had seen previously at The Photographers’ Gallery. However, it was interesting to see how her work is progressing as she has begun to include looser responses to the found images she uses, among the heavily embroidered work. This article is helpful on her motivations, and I might well put her forthcoming book Stickybeaks on my Christmas list.
Aside from these the highlights of the visit were the Martina Amati installation, which consisted of two underwater films, one on the wall and the other on the ceiling, in the darkened barn, a huge space which was itself part of the work. The effect was both beautiful and quite mesmerising and spoke eloquently of the peculiarly mindful nature of free diving. I loved it, which was great as the stills were rather dark for the wall they occupied and did not give the same sense of immersion and wonder that the installation produced. I am not usually a particular fan of moving image, but these may have to make me change my mind. They were backed up by a film documentary on free diving which looked fascinating, and I must try to find it on the Web.
The other work that really caught my attention was a six panel linocut print in the café by Diane Fogwell, which was exquisite – incredibly layered and with a strong Oriental vibe, although it was clearly a British scene. The detail was amazing.
- I will definitely be back. Specifically, they regularly put on shows involving light installations, which I realise always draw me, and which I need to explore further as a concept in my own work. Assignment 1 seems a long time ago.
- it is ok to include variations on a theme for a series. I had been worrying that my A5 might be a bit samy, but it should be fine to produce more work along the same lines as I am already doing.
- there is a Bruce Munro exhibition coming up in December, which I want to attend. He had a large show on in Alice Springs, when I was there a couple of years ago, but we didn’t have time to see it, whcih i regretted at the time. This will be a new opportunity to see his work.
Finally, Kate and I returned to her house and spent a happy hour making Citrasolv art from old National Geographics. It is always fascinating to see how they develop, and I particularly enjoy the random nature of the results. A couple are shown below.
Fig.1 Woodward, H. (2019) Messums Gallery view, Tisbury, Wiltshire. [Photograph] In the possession of: the author.
Fig. 2 Woodward, H. (2019) Tom Butler’s altered calling cards. [Photograph] In the possession of: the author.
Fig. 3 Woodward, H. (2019) Martina Amati’s underwater film installation. [Photograph] In the possession of: the author.
Fig. 4 Woodward, H. (2019) Diane Fogwell’s linocut print ‘Portent’ in the Messums’s cafe.[Photograph] In the possession of: the author.
Figs 5-6 Woodward, H. (2019) Citrasolv prints 1 &2. [Photograph] In the possession of: the author.