Matt Roberts Arts, 25b Vyner St, London, E2 9DG

ALAS Summer Residency Exhibition 2012

28th June – 7th July 2012

 I visited the inaugural opening of ALAS  at Matt Roberts’ Gallery. This group show will become a twice yearly event on Vyner Street, happening in June and November. This is an exciting addition to  the  Matt Roberts Gallery annual  Salon exhibitions, consisting of a mixed media show, (painting, sculpture, installation and any 2-D media) as well as the two additional  salon prizes, which specialise in photography and video.

The salon shows and now ‘ALAS‘ are great platforms for contemporary artists to gain valuable exposure of the work and forge new links with other practitioners, galleries and art collectors in London. I spoke to Matt Roberts that evening about his idea behind the  current show. He seems to  have a real understanding and commitment in supporting artists  to  develop their career as successful practitioners.  I really liked his idea of getting artists to work collaboratively in the gallery environment prior to the exhibition, sharing and discussing their development to make a cohesive show. An artist tends to have an isolated lifestyle, so the making of ALAS was a return to the college atmosphere, where peer assessment could be implemented to support the making process, as opposed to merely commenting on finished work.  In addition, each Saturday, a talk or visit was arranged where artists would meet different organisations in the art world to gather contacts and advice.

“After five years of providing artists’ professional development support Matt Roberts has launched ALAS, as a means of sharing knowledge about ways in which artists can gain exhibition experience and exposure for their practice. The ALAS professional development residency consists of over 100 hours of lectures and one-to-one tuition from our team and guest lecturers over a five week period. Successful applicants will be asked to bring 1-2 works in progress which will be completed in our studio facilities and exhibited at the Matt Roberts Arts gallery spaces.”

Exhibiting artists are:

Catrine Bodum, David Chalkley, Hannah Futers, Caro Halford, Kirsty Harris, Karolina Magnusson-Murray, Susie Mendelsson, Hana Melley, Julia Miranda, Moorland Productions, Laurie Nouchka, Araba Ocran, Jane Oldfield, Charley Peters, Paul Stanley, Susanna Thornton, Ventiko, Jemma Watts, Sarah West

Here is a small selection of images from the group exhibition.

Paul Stanley
“Lying awake in my bed as a child I listened to the trains going by on the track that ran behind our street, hoping to make sense out of the white noise of a world that extended endlessly beyond my understanding.”

Paul Stanley
“Through my more recent ‘Pulling at Threads’ series I have been looking closely at how we develop relationships with the images that are personal to us; for example how we understand our own image captured at a point in time such as childhood.”

Jemma Watts “My current work is concerned with the psychogeography of cities, exploring the idea of the sacred and mystical in the modern world, and specifically urban environments. It seems to me that something that is shaped by the will of so many human minds over hundreds of years must have a higher significance.”

Jemma Watts

Black and white photo from the exhibition of Jemma Watts drawings on paper

Julia Miranda

Hannah Futers
My work flows between drawing, painting, photography and constructing sets. These all feed into one another, and are concerned with surface and texture, creating and documenting landscapes, and using time as a medium.

The image above shows a photo of a film by Hannah Futers, except you can not see anything. Her film was in an enclosed space at the entrance of the gallery. In reality, the film is so delicate and faint, you can barely make out  the footage of shimmering of light. I could not capture it properly to illustrate Hannah Futer’s work, but it was so interesting I wanted to mention it in more detail. A visitor was telling her friend about it, so I listened in. She had recorded the flickering colours of light, reflected on the shiny surface of a gallery floor. At first, the film was  abstract and unidentifiable, then a gallery visitor’s feet cross over the reflection. It was subtle, a sublime light, a trace of something, then reality hits you. It feels like the gallery visitor is breaking the silence or the beauty of the piece. It feels destructive and intrusive, except this recording is just an unintentional  by-product of an artwork. Futer’s work seems to play with the idea of authorship, capturing interest in the peripheral areas of an artwork, that the original artist has no control or claim over. Is it now hers for the taking?

An artwork by Kirsty Harris on small sanded down oak panel. The detail in phenomenal. She uses a 10x 0 brush to get  some of these lines, which I never knew existed! Her oil paintings are created using traditional miniature painting techniques and show a contemporary and comical take of paintings from history. They remain faceless, so that the work refers to compositional elements as opposed to making an identifiable portrait of someone. 

David Chalkley- a photo I took of his work in the gallery with  a visitor looking at it- seemingly impressed.

David Chalkley- Creating the piece for the ALAS show
“With this piece I am exploring how time acts upon objects. The objects were mass-produced from identical moulds but time has afforded them different histories. Only when viewing these items as a collection of individuals do the effects”

Araba Ocran- My work has evolved from an exploration of monumentalism. Monumental sculptures are traditionally permanent objects which denote a deed or a person worthy of record; a memorial, celebrated in sculpture and painting. 
My work aims to challenge this concept by my choice of sculptural medium and subject matter

Catrine Bodum- extract taken from her statement- In 2009, during her MA in London Catrine Bodum found her influence in the music of Steve Reich and the Poems of Robert Lax. Bodum felt that there was a dialogue in their work that she could continue into her own work. They worked as a springboard into new ways of building up her compositions. Catrine Bodum has since moved on from working directly in reference to their work.

This is a detail from Catrine Bodum’s work. The painting was made of two parts and this photo shows just the right hand side of the artwork.

Susie Mendelsson
Much of my work is motivated by an exploration of personal memories and the expression of psychological states of trauma and anxiety. Though the sources of my imagery are often autobiographical, my work communicates universal concerns and emotions, especially from a woman’s perspective.

Sarah West
I systematically scavenge the vast array of imagery within magazines and newspapers; consuming, analysing and reacting to chance shots of unpredictable subject and composition.

Detail from Sarah West’s painting.

I really enjoyed the exhibition and you could see that a good  friendship between the artists  had also been created at the opening event. The artists came from a wide range of backgrounds, ages, experiences and disciplines. The exhibition runs until the 7th July so go check it out. More info can be found here.



Saatchi Gallery, Duke Of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY
10am-6pm, 7 days a week, last entry 5:30pm
Admission is free to all exhibitions

There is a brilliant exhibition on at the Saatchi Gallery  until 15th July 2012, with many examples of how photography can be used to create works of art by a wide range of artists. I was truly inspired by the ingenious processes, methods of display and subject matter on show. Here is a list of participating artists.

Michele Abeles, L. Raphael Agbodjélou, Olaf Breuning, Jonny Briggs, Broomberg & Chanarin, Elina Brotherus, Anders Clausen, Mat Collishaw, JH Engström, Mitch Epstein, Andreas Gefeller, Luis Gispert, Daniel Gordon, Noémie Goudal, Katy Grannan, Matthew Day Jackson, Chris Levine, Matt Lipps, Ryan McGinley, Mohau Modisakeng, Laurel Nakadate, Sohei Nishino, David Noonan, Marlo Pascual, Mariah Robertson, Phoebe Rudomin, Hannah Sawtell, David Benjamin Sherry, Berndnaut Smilde, Meredyth Sparks, Hannah Starkey,  A.L. Steiner, John Stezaker, Mikhael Subotzky, Yumiko Utsu, Sara VanDerBeek, Nicole Wermers, Jennifer West, Pinar Yolaçan

    Mariah Robertson ” Who said a print had to meekly accept being confined to a frame? Why can’t it ripple along a floor, up a wall and across  a ceiling?”  

 Robertson is an artist that paints with photography, disregarding convention and utilizing the accidental. I believe much of her experimentation happens in the dark room, where she manipulates traditional dark room processes.
It reminded me of how once I had left a roll of film in a drawer  (2001) with a spilled pot of baby bio and when I took the film to be processed, strange plant like melting forms appeared instead of any photographs. I told this to an artist once who tried to recreate the same process but they said nothing happened.

I was looking down upon the above artwork and took a photo (on left) which reminded me of a reflection in a pool. Some of her work looks like chemicals have been splashed over, to take away colour or  to merge colour so it has a ‘liquified’ feel to it. I could see elements from reality but the layering and merging of  forms make the subject hard to decipher, so I just enjoyed the colours and depth that I could lose myself in. I could see there were  two distinct bodies of work and I perhaps  preferred the expressiveness of the abstract photographs as they looked so much like paintings. However, I really enjoyed the more figurative black and white photographs which focussed on areas of the body. I am not sure how these were made; Photograms/solarisation techniques? but they reminded me of Matisse paintings, where the body becomes merged with the patterns in the background or a study in tone, like a Morandi still life. They look straight forward, yet I also felt they were original and exciting.

This last image shown above, is called ‘Elbosco’ and it looks very much like The Garden of Earthly Delights by  Hieronymus Bosch.  I found the image from the Saatchi website and so was not on display.  I love the original painting, which you can see in the flesh at the Prado  in Madrid, but I also  love the darkness and distortion of this photograph by Robertson
  • Portrait of the Queen 
This portrait of the Queen by Chris Levine is fantastic. It evokes so many thoughts, such as serenity, natural, yet composed, intentional and completely modern. I have imported the text from the Saatchi website,  by William A Ewing as it succinctly captures Levine’s process and outcome.  It was a happy ‘accident’ that resulted in Chris Levine’s meditative portrait of Queen Elizabeth II
  • He had set out on a commission to commemorate the Isle of Jersey’s 800th year of allegiance to the crown in a holographic portrait, a process that involved an extraordinary technological array: a high-resolution digital camera which moved along a rail taking 200 images over eight seconds, a 3-D data scanner and a medium format camera which he could use, if necessary, to capture information he could texture-map onto the 3-D data sets.
  • The queen was required to sit still for 8 seconds at a time, and between the passes she closed her eyes to rest. Levine was struck by the beauty of her meditative state and snapped the shutter. A picture like this would have been inconceivable even 20 years ago. The formal portrait has for some time been fraying around the edges, but now in our paparazzi culture it reads as entirely bogus.
  • Closed eyes were reserved for great singers and musicians, who were in tune with another world; Kings, Queens and statesmen had to have their eyes open and fixed firmly on the here-and-now. In recent years, the Queen has been fair game for subversive image-makers. Tibor Kalman imagined her as a black woman in his series What if?, while Alison Jackson made her out to be, well, just like the rest of us. Yousuf Karsh would role over in his grave. “

Another perhaps more regal portrait is this image made by Katy Grannan.

Her work is displayed in an entire room at the gallery and was the first artist I encountered. Her work is brutally honest, with the harsh Californian sun beating down upon each person. The detail is so clear in these large-scale photographs,  that  I began to stare unabashed; noticing imperfections, such as stains on their clothes,  their jewellery, creases of age and sun damage and how they had their hair.

These characters appear like tokens from a crowd, a cross-section of Californian people, marked out against a stony white wall and as if caught in a moment of passing by… They had agreed to be photographed and therefore agreed perhaps to be judged and meticulously observed.  They are not my idea of a  stereotypical Californian, or are they? There is a sense of an awkwardness, yet not in their pose or expression. In the exhibition blurb, the people are described as ‘prideful in their individuality’, yet the photographs defies the airbrushed, perfected hollywood image of celebrities.

Some of the figures soak up the celebrity culture in their styling, but in a human, physical way which can not defy aging like in the movies. This is reality, this is how it really is and they are proud and exotic in their own right.

  • I really loved Noemie Goudal’s work. It was poetic, clever, romantic and right up my street. I myself, make small table top models with natural and man made objects  and  create back drops to paint from. She however, takes the model outside and makes it actual size. The model is the real environment, which she  manipulates and adorns to confuse the boundaries of the real and the stage set. I had never thought of this and it is brilliant.

Her work did seem a little overshadowed by three major pieces, by the artist Mat Collishaw, but perhaps this was the intention, that they skulk in the darkness behind his  cloth pegged cat, which perhaps should be idolised or worshipped by the audience.

 I have extracted the following information from the Saatchi website:
  • Mat Collishaw states: “The type of adverts to be found on television and in glossy magazines are visually designed to have a power over the mind before they can even be questioned. The dark side of my work, primarily concerns the internal mechanisms of visual imagery and how these mechanisms address the mind.”

  • Corona and Madonna have a historically epic quality. Corona disturbingly implies early 20th Century experimentation, Madonna’s timeless face is cropped from a photograph of an Indian woman taken after her village was destroyed in a flood. These tragic images seem all too contemporary with their digitised high-gloss finish. However, their surfaces aren’t photographs at all, rather they’re made up of tiny, cold ceramic tiles. Mat Collishaw uses mosaic to immortalise his subjects the same way images of saints and martyrs were rendered in early churches, but by doing so he replicates the process of image transmission over the internet.
Eighth Day

  • Mat Collishaw can always find the intrinsically evil in photography. His subjects are often shocking and horrific – but it’s always the medium which is most disturbing. In The Eighth Day, Collishaw reproduces a photo of a real lynching found in an old book – but he does it in a monumental mosaic. Originally used in ancient times to immortalise gods, saints, and martyrs, mosaics were used to preserve timeless morals. But there’s something freakishly futuristic about Collishaw’s epic – black and white images are a modern invention, the miniscule tiles convincingly parody computer pixellation.”


I made it to the RCA Show 2012 today, but only the Battersea site. It has changed a lot since I was at Howie Street. It’s much more glitzy and futuristic and has nice foyers and bigger spaces. I was definitely overwhelmed, excited and curious about the artwork on display.

The first artist I got struck by was Matthew Pagett

The two images above are explained here

On the left

KL14: million photograph of an unknown women reduced to a few pixels then repeated a million times -giclee print

On the right

KL15- Portrait drawing of a photograph of an unknown women whose face has been reduced to a few pixels then magnified under a microscope- graphite on paper

The texture of the print on the left was amazing. I could imagine there were tiny faces,  but it was so small it became this incredible surface of brown. When I got close the brown- ness hovered and resonated. I have added a large image so you can get a little of the sensation

I spent the longest time in a tent with some little birds flying around. I was scared to go in, but I am glad I did in the end. It looked very closed and uninviting from the outside, but inside it was really atmospheric and  cleverly done.

The first thing you notice are the living birds that fly away from a pile of seeds on the ground when you enter the tent.

Then I noticed the actual artwork, which was a film on a large flat screen monitor. It took time to engage with the story, as  there were so many other elements inside the tent, such as a structure made of books and a garment, and of course the birds, a glitter ball and the audience watching the film. Then gradually it begins to fit together. I had to watch the whole thing again.

It’s like ‘Made in Chelsea’ but on acid, where a nice young man is heading to a party and accidentally forgets to pay for some oil for his motor bicycle. He is tormented by a fellow student? who looks like someone from the mighty boosh who is some sort of evil magician who owns a petrol station. The film seems to be about alternative realities with a bizarre, non- sensical layer weaving into the everyday reality we expect and are used to.

The film was made by Peter Georgallou.

The film is shot really well and is engaging enough to capture my attention for over 40 minutes. I enjoyed it, especially when I was the only one in the tent, as I could appreciate the sensations of the environment.

Image taken at my visit to the RCA show

I watched 3 films by Alice Evans. The two I preferred were: a pub fight after someone put a lollipop in a beer, but it was in slow motion with operatic music, a love story based on a poem  by Walt Whitman,  ‘When I heard at the close of Day.’ The latter was poetically shot and made me want to go to a cottage like in the film.  It is hard to describe the film, so I have added links to her website where you can watch them yourself and also the link to this particular film below.

Walt Whitman.

“In the stillness, in the autumn moonbeams, his face was inclined toward me, And his arm lay lightly around my breast—and that night I was happy.”


There was a great film by Fatma Bucak, which made me laugh out loud.  “Blessed are you who come,” Conversation on the  Turkish- Armenian border.

A women dressed in black cracks two eggs in front a crowd of paid bystanders. They do not know what is going to happen, but they know they must stay still for 15 minutes. One person is particularly uncomfortable about the situation. The film captures the women handing out bread to the crowd and walking amongst them while their personal chats are recorded and used in the subtitles, such as discussing where the film will be shown, the qualities of different societies etc.

Here are a few shots of some of the exhibits at the RCA. There was so much to look at, I have only selected a few.

Edward Bagenal- artwork


I’m loving this tumblr account by Edward Bagenal. There are a multitude of themes from  fast food, ethereal landscapes, vintage portraiture and documentary sketches.

There are so many I love and could have picked out to put on this post.  His work is a  bizarre and eccentric mash up of almost  corny ’60s portraiture paired with a cartoony, plastic- Pop art  aesthetic. As a result, you get this  unique kinda hybrid going on.

 Tracy H. Girdler…

Tracy Girdler is from a grand lineage of artists, such as her great-great  grandfather who began Crayola to help young children master drawing in colour. As part of her development as an artist, she studied art in Washington, USA and also worked as an intern at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. She draws upon her eclectic experiences from different cultures,  first beginning during her family’s frequent moves around the globe, whilst she was growing up.


The work itself is  abstract, with suggestions of figurative elements. The painterly surface is textures with sgraffito techniques, thick paint, staining and overlaying of transparent and opaque colours. The ideas behind her compositions seem to be about the physicality of paint and surface and an organic development of colour, tone and texture. Inspiration is taken from many sources and instigates the painting rather than controls the outcome.

Tracy H. Girdler

“They are not pictures or representations of any specific thing, but rather products of my vision, which I hope you will come to share. I want you to see what you find yourself, not what you are told to expect. When I paint, I often surprise myself with where I come out, but there is always a personal vision underlying the work. This does not conform to any particular rule or teaching, but rather springs from the creative urge.”

Her work appears  ‘textile-like’ in the sense that the  layers of colour remind me of  weaving and also there is  a scattered  and  fragmented pespective, with some works appearing like ariel images. There is also an energy and playful quality to the marks she makes, with rapid circles and lines.

Tracy H. Girdler “The process of creating a painting is in my case often a messy one: I may variously paint, let it dry, scrape some off, paint again, paint over, and use my fingers– whatever seems to be wanted.”

Some work has a touch of Rothko to it. Perhaps this association came to mind, when I read she  had work on display at the Four Seasons Hotel Lobby In Boston, evident in the he defused bands of colour that  cross the compositions.


Girdler seems an unpretentious artist, where she is keen to create artworks that respond to a the client’s space and where work can be hung to the client’s taste.  For example, Girdler has an interesting take on commission based work, where she will visit the environment first, to get a feel of how the artwork will relate to the surrounding space. I also like the fact that you can rotate the images on her website to view it from different angles and even after the work has been hung, it can later be rotated to see the work afresh.

Tracy H. Girdler

“The underlying vision may arise from my experience– African landscapes, Rome’s history-soaked downtown, California’s broad, open beaches, the edge and grit of New York City– or from some recess of my mind. Each work, however, retains its own mystery and visual challenge, leaving it to you the viewer to find meaning and emotion as you will.”