clare mitten


Mitten_Counter_0-1I made a visit to the Bow Arts studios in Bermondsey on Friday night in particular to see Clare Mitten’s work. I have added images of her art that were not at Bow Arts. Clare Mitten makes mechanical/electronic structures out of cardboard, paper and other exciting materials.  Almost like a personalised 3-D printer, but made by hand and more colourful, Clare begins with reference to an actual device, yet allows the material choices to inform some of the decision making.

AZTECH, Installation View, 'A Curious Context', The Lobby, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, 2010

AZTECH, Installation View, ‘A Curious Context’, The Lobby, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, 2010

I also liked the work on display in the following studios.
christina wrege



Quote from Christina Wredge

This ongoing series of work aims to analyse the workings of forms in relation to a plane. The forms, rocks chosen at random, are in a communicative relation to one another. Planes of colour evoke the sense of a particular space. The forms are dropped into this setting and begin to inhabit it. They have been “mis-en-scene”.


eun park





Henry Mulhall

Henry Mullhall

Henry Mullhall and Jean Philippe Dordolo share a space at Bow Arts.


Jean Philippe Dordolo


I was really struck by the work in Jean-Philippe’s work.

Jean-Philippe Dordolo’s website.

I was really interested to find out more about Jean Philippe Dordolo and he kindly answered some of my questions.

Your art works are often made of 2-D and 3-D  groupings. What is your starting point: a photo, or the 3-D material? How do you select additional elements to co-exist together?

My work never used to be like that. But the grouping of 2D and 3D slowly crept up in my work as I started to focus on different forms of narratives. I couldn’t tell you what comes first though as I do not follow any strict rule.

Im Horizont (Fischadler), 2012_ Wood, A1 b/w Xerox / H.290 W.129 D.49

Im Horizont (Fischadler), 2012_
Wood, A1 b/w Xerox / H.290 W.129 D.49

I like to make objects, experiment with techniques and material. I try to diversify my techniques in the studio, learn some new ones and distort them for another use. I want to materially challenge myself, and sometimes it also leads to materially challenge a subject matter.

Topographie einer ordentlichen Sitzung, 2012_ Selbstbefriedigung, 2012_ Alter und Schwerkraft, 2012_ MDF, Wood dowels, Painted wood, A1 Xerox print, Clay, Varnish / H.100 W.65 D.124

Topographie einer ordentlichen Sitzung, 2012_
Selbstbefriedigung, 2012_
Alter und Schwerkraft, 2012_
MDF, Wood dowels, Painted wood, A1 Xerox print, Clay, Varnish / H.100 W.65 D.124

A 2D image, particularly if selected from an existing visual archive (the internet is one of them, the pictures I take is another) all bear a certain form of symbolism. They are not the physical thing itself, but a representation of that thing. As such they have an underlying narrative to explore. The 2D image provide me with a context in which the 3D objects can fully assume their identity and express their relevance.

 Are you looking for opposites, for one surface quality to accentuate another or is the narrative/dialogue more important, where one object will react with another to create meaning or reinforce meaning?

I guess I could say I’m looking for both, yet not always simultaneously. Again it does really depends on how things present themselves in the studio. I think my approach is as processed based as it can be conceptual. I need to keep makings object and experimenting with material as much as I need to think about where things are heading, how they do relate to the world around me, and what it means to the viewers.

Topographie einer ordentlichen Sitzung, 2012_ Plaster board, Crystacal, Chipboard, Acrylic, b/w print / H.84 W.54 D.35

Topographie einer ordentlichen Sitzung, 2012_
Plaster board, Crystacal, Chipboard, Acrylic, b/w print / H.84 W.54 D.35

Maybe what makes a successful piece of work in my case relies on how balanced the form/dialogue ratio operates. The works I find less successful are those in which the 2D image simply illustrates the 3D object (or vice versa) without there being any integration process which would result in a distinct homogenous piece of work.

I look back at Topographie einer ordentlichen Sitzung thinking it was helpful in figuring out where I was going with the 2D/3D combination but in hindsight I’m not quite happy with the work itself. It was a great exercise for me, but not a great piece of work as it relies on the material illustration of an image only. It does not create new meanings or narratives.

Hundefutter, 2012_ Chipboard, MDF, Filler, Plaster, Concrete, Gold Leaves / H.136 W.34 D.37

Hundefutter, 2012_
Chipboard, MDF, Filler, Plaster, Concrete, Gold Leaves / H.136 W.34 D.37

I think if I can materially reconcile aesthetics (what I think you might mean when talking about one surface quality?) with a narrative/dialogue, then things will be heading in the right direction. I can’t consider content alone, in the same way I cannot work only towards a certain form of aesthetics…. It’s a joined effort

Is it the reinterpretation of a 2-D image to a 3-D form? Is it about simplifying visual images?

It can be a reinterpretation but as I move forward in my practice, it becomes more and more about integrating the 2D to the 3D in order to create an alternative form of narrative altogether.

The simplification of visual images generally relies on the concept of abstraction. From the moment I use an image, a symbol, and edit it, there clearly is a bit of that going on. I’m trying to learn how and when to stop simplifying it, because I do not believe in abstraction as a pure stylistic form standing its ground. There is something too polite about that for me.

Handwaffe, 2013_ Plaster, Wood, Filler / W.30 D.8

Handwaffe, 2013_
Plaster, Wood, Filler / W.30 D.8

But going back to the topics I choose, this is lead by research and processes of association. When I started to work with marquetry, I could not consider the craft without its history and the way it was applied to furniture and decorative arts. I then started to work and research images alluding to that sort of era. I could not shake out Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon out of my head somehow.

Ein Sommer in Long Island, 2013_ B/W Print, Lollies / H.107 W.161 - Plaster, Lollies / H.122 W.88 D.7

Ein Sommer in Long Island, 2013_
B/W Print, Lollies / H.107 W.161 – Plaster, Lollies / H.122 W.88 D.7

The plaster and lollies work you found in my studio really reminded me of an explosion. I wanted to use it in that way rather than just as another abstract object. The idea of creating a narrative that was displaced, almost alien to the nature of the object itself, really appealed to me. Hence the use of that print from the Battle of Long Island.

I guess most of my recent work plays around the notion of historicism. The great thing about this is that it grants me a field of research with no limits. I guess I’m interested in mixing signals, proving there not one universal truth. In the same way my work relies on the careful intervention of many factors (in terms of aesthetics and narratives) whose combination decides of a particular outcome. Yet this outcome could be completely different if the context or use of parameters was different.

Bzzzz, 2013_ Wood, MDF, Acrylic, Polyurethane, Filler / H.79 W.33.5 D.33.5

Bzzzz, 2013_
Wood, MDF, Acrylic, Polyurethane, Filler / H.79 W.33.5 D.33.5

Fallenlassen der Akzent, 2013_ MDF / H.84.5 W. 59.5

Fallenlassen der Akzent, 2013_
MDF / H.84.5 W. 59.5

How important are the plinths in your work. They are not the usual white cube, but take on sculptural qualities of their own, often unprimed and rough. Is this to expose the textures of the materials, to elevate the status of MDF/ chipboard etc? Do you want some elements to show craftsmanship and others to be rough and ready?

I believe it takes some craftsmanship to get away with the rough and ready aesthetics of a work. I can see the difference between those who can and those who can’t. Look at Manfred Pernice for instance. He knows! I think it’s part of the experience of learning a technique until the medium is under control. Only then can one take some liberties and try to get away from the usual format of presentation of that medium, use the medium differently. Now I would not call myself a craftsman. I think my knowledge is too superficial for that present. But it’s definitely something I want to push so that I can break free from the tradition of a material or medium, develop a singular language.

Landscape Drawings (Sunset / Sunrise), 2011_ Untitled Gurgling, 2011_ MDF, Chipboard, Acrylic, Styrene, Filler, Gurgling Jug, Modified Coconut

Landscape Drawings (Sunset / Sunrise), 2011_
Untitled Gurgling, 2011_
MDF, Chipboard, Acrylic, Styrene, Filler, Gurgling Jug, Modified Coconut

Selbstbefriedigung, 2012_ MDF, Wood dowel, Paint, A2 Xerox Print / H.173 W.62 D.68

Selbstbefriedigung, 2012_
MDF, Wood dowel, Paint, A2 Xerox Print / H.173 W.62 D.68

Going back to the plinth finish for instance, the plinth’s function is to elevate. It’s forcing the singularity and sacred character of a particular item onto an audience. I’m not sure the plinth should always be painted because their purpose lays somewhere else. After all they have traditionally been made of carved stone. They sometimes have ornaments but most of the time a paint job would be turning the plinth into a neutral display tool for museum context. If I have to make a plinth, I prefer to register its history and monumentality: its readiness to elevate. I want it to become part of the work and to be potent, raw.

 I really liked the plaster and lollipop sticks. Some of your work seems quite fast and quickly executed. It seems like you enjoy this quality to your work, it is humorous, non-monumental and instantly appealing. It reminded me a little of Franz West or Frank Bowlings drip paintings.

Thank you for the feedback. I guess there is worst than being compared to Franz West!

(Well just the lumpy plaster piece) Frank Bowling came to mind when I saw this.

Swiss Break, 2011_ Painted Steel, Acrylic, PingPong Ball

Swiss Break, 2011_
Painted Steel, Acrylic, PingPong Ball

And this, purely with the sense of things that should slide are halted or suspended.

Lebenszyklus eines Huhns, 2011_ Pan Steel Handle, Styrene, Hay, Raw Egg Yolk (changed daily)

Lebenszyklus eines Huhns, 2011_
Pan Steel Handle, Styrene, Hay, Raw Egg Yolk (changed daily)

Yes I tend to execute things rather ‘quickly’ once I set my mind to it. To be honest it does take me a lot of standing around looking at what I have done / am doing before I manage to take the work further. It’s part of trying to find that balance I referred to earlier. Knowing how to go about it, creating the narrative. Then when I get an idea, even though I’m never sure if will deliver, I set off to be as efficient about it as possible. I always remember that principle from ‘hagakure: the way of the samurai’ whereby a warrior should always set of to act on a decision within seven breaths after taking it. Ultimately an artist is a doer. And risk taking is mainly going with an intuition and acting on it wholeheartedly. If this can be seen in the work, I guess everything is not lost!

Jean- Philippe Dordolo

I very much worked like that with the lollies and plaster piece. It was quite instant. But a lot of the work was also to think about how to turn it into something more than this object, this material gesture that’s just pretty. I like to make my work quite quirky and appealing. But it’s even more important to create a context for it. If not the work only becomes a one liner.

The more literal-minded opted for works that made direct reference to an egg: Jean-Philippe Dordolo’s Landscape Drawings (Sunset / Sunrise) (2011), in which two raw egg yolks quiver in the bottom-right and top-left corners of two framed boxes, was prominently displayed in the reception area beneath the orange glow of Dexter Sinister’s Neon for the Serving Library (2011).

Landscape Drawings (Sunset / Sunrise) (2011)

From Frieze Issue 147 May 2012 “

The Curator’s Egg” by Eleanor Nairne

The more literal-minded opted for works that made direct reference to an egg: Jean-Philippe Dordolo’s Landscape Drawings (Sunset / Sunrise) (2011), in which two raw egg yolks quiver in the bottom-right and top-left corners of two framed boxes, was prominently displayed in the reception area beneath the orange glow of Dexter Sinister’s Neon for the Serving Library (2011).

Artworks that  you create,  such as the eggs to  look like sunsets/sunrise has a ‘certain’ amount of temporality which defies permanence and monumental work?

Indeed. I’m not sure I realised all that until after I made the work. For a show which lasted a month, someone had to come everyday in the morning to lay an egg in each frame, and in the evening to clear off so that it doesn’t mark the surface to badly. Monumental task for a work which seems so simple. I was so impressed the gallery went for it and embraced the process.I’m not one to feel like I want my work to go to posterity. If it does, cool. But if it doesn’t that’s fine as well. Eternity is here only to satisfy the ego. The making is more important than the shelf live

Thank you Jean- Philippe for your in depth answers to my questions…

TO VIEW work at Bow Arts


Open Studios Programme


Mise-en-scène e-invite
Friday, September 20, 2013 to Saturday, October 5, 2013

Please join us for the preview of the show from 6-9pm Friday 20th September.


Franz West
Man with a Ball

October 9 – November 10, 2012

GAGOSIAN GALLERY- Britannia Street, London

Images courtesy of Gagosian Gallery Website. More information about the exhibition can be found here:

FRANZ WEST: Man with a Ball”
Installation view
Photo by Mike Bruce

There is a really exciting solo exhibition of Franz West sculptures and paintings at Gagosian Gallery in London.

FRANZ WEST: Man with a Ball”
Installation view
Photo by Mike Bruce

“Creativity is just rhetoric. The everyday life wants to enter, but I have to carefully dam it up.” West

As a newcomer to Franz West, I side-stepped past the large pink intestinal sculpture in the foyer and sat at a table, leafing through various catalogues, whilst my fellow compadre rampaged through an entire sketchbook making fast, expressive drawings from the sculptures in the gallery.

I came across a five-page conversation between the artist Sarah Lucas and Franz West at the front of a book.  It seemed to be an email dialogue, where Lucas posed questions to West about his motivations and where they might position their art against others as well as hair removal. It flitted between seriousness and nonsense. There was a film called Energy Diaries, shown at the ICA this year,documenting a 2010 conversation between the two artists and also Andreas Reiter Raabe, with music interventions by Philipp Quehenberger. There is a really good and funny review of this talk held at the Royal Institution, London, 21st June 2010  by Rebecca Bell: Click on this link to see more….‘a-talk’-sarah-lucas-andreas-reiter-raabe-and-franz-west/

 I have included an extract from the write-up by Rebecca Bell, as it sets the tone for West’s  and indeed Lucas’ work.

“The evening reached a climax of mixed pleasure, frustration and confusion when Lucas walked out saying “I’m going for a wee” which resulted in many people leaving. West shrugged and said to the audience “money back again”. I suddenly felt I was part of a morphing Stoppard Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

When Lucas returned questions were invited from the floor – to which a young man asked what was going on. He had come for a talk, he had come to an institution, he expected information, and he expected a structure.

The artists asked him what he wanted to know and they would tell him. The starry crowd tangibly divided between those sneering at his lack of comprehension and those nodding vehemently at his right to ask the question they were too afraid to ask. Perhaps he exposed an Emperor’s New Clothes element to the proceeding, but also in questioning the activity he created a Brechtian sense of performance, a commentator exposing the process of the event, clarifying the deterioration of the 4th (in this case even 3rd, 2nd and 1st?) wall.

The frustration of many seemed contradictory for a crowd so willing to accept anything within the boundaries of the artists’ decision and yet they rejected this member of the audience for demanding to become a part of an apparently boundless event/experience through his question.

I digress; back to the books and I read a second interview. West was asked how he begins his sculptures. In response, West explained how he would stand in front of nothing and then make a ‘body’ which is then corrected and vamped up in several stages to conceal his ‘inability’ to make art.  Various objects such as wicker baskets and card board boxes used to develop this central body were left partly exposed and unpainted whilst other areas are completely submerged in  bandages of paper and paint and no longer identifiable.

FRANZ WEST: Man with a Ball”
Installation view
Photo by Mike Bruce

FRANZ WEST: Man with a Ball”
Installation view
Photo by Mike Bruce

My fellow artist made some really interesting observations about West’s work. She described them as a  3-D drawing on a journey. The  twisting shapes felt full of movement as I was compelled to scan over the sculptures following the curves from end to end. There was a desire to interact; to step over, get inside and to touch the sculptures. West mentions his link with Nikki De Saint Phalle’s grottos, where the audience could inhabit both the interior and also view the surface of the art work. In fact, her giant sculpture garden  in Tuscany was indeed inhabited by De Saint Phalle and her team of workers for the duration of its construction.

Niki De Saint Phalle

A post man came into deliver some letters to Gagosian passing right through the pink twirling form and  then ducking back out again. Did he really touch that? I quite liked his blasé attitude as this seemed on the same level as West. I read how West was also not a fan of Henry Moore’s sculptures, as they were too perfect and smooth. There is an equilibrium between the  process of construction and the physicality of materials and structure. Nothing is more or less important; The surfaces are not overworked and the sculptures don’t pretend to be anything other than a mass of pulp objects and paint. The sculptures were made mainly from paper mache pulp and foam; materials akin to school art lessons. The paint is clumpy and mottled. West mentioned that others would colour the sculptures as he thought he could not paint, but the sculptures became to ‘arrogant’ to him, so he started to paint them himself instead. Some of the sculptures are partly painted, so you can see the grey paper mulch peeking through or large areas are left unprimed. Then there is a mixture of upside-down drips, splashes and layering of different colours that also have dripped down onto the plinths below. I read that when returning to his freshly painted sculptures for the first time, he saw the colour had lost its shine and vitality and was disappointed by this. However the sculptures at Gagosian had been developed using a gloss of acrylic lacquer which increased the richness of colours.

FRANZ WEST: Man with a Ball”
Installation view
Photo by Mike Bruce

“A sculpture is more real than a 2-D artwork.” West

FRANZ WEST: Man with a Ball”
Installation view
Photo by Mike Bruce

 I wanted not to like West’s work, but it was not possible. It was so free and fun and casual and lacking any pomposity or pretensions. He seemed a  bit of a joker.

From Gagosian’s Press release:

“In the seventies, he produced the first of the small, portable, mixed media sculptures called Adaptives (Passstücke). These “ergonomically inclined” objects become complete as artworks only when the viewer holds, wears, carries or performs with them. Transposing the knowledge gained with these formative works, he explored sculpture increasingly in terms of an ongoing dialogue of actions and reactions between viewers and objects in any given exhibition space, while probing the internal aesthetic relations between sculpture and painting.”

My favourite part of the exhibition, was these three baby coloured sculptures. Ridiculously big, yet not monumental, cartoon like and silly, pleasurable and enveloping, the sculptures seemed to float in the space like alien meteors.
Franz West- 16 February 1947 – 25 July 2012

RUNA ISLAM- WHITE CUBE and Elmgreen & Dragset- Victoria Miro

White Cube. 48 Hoxton Square London N1 6PB. Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 6pm.

 I saw Runa Islam’s work at the White Cube in Hoxton. The exhibition is on until 3rd November 2012.

The image opening her work on the Whitecube website is this…..?

It was pouring with rain and I had got soaked whilst escorting my students back to Old Street tube, although they knew the way. We had been on a gallery tour to The Barbican, Victoria Miro and Parasol Unit, with one extra stop off with a few die-hards at The Signal Gallery to see Guy Dennings portraits. With students dispatched, I was now free, but dripping with water, so headed to the Breakfast Club for a milkshake and to warm up. Once suitably dry, I thought I’d continue with my plan of visiting the White Cube. It looked closed, as the entrance and interior space was so dark, but the door pushed open and someone was just visible behind the front desk. I picked up an artist info sheet and tried to read it in the low light. I could see what looked like a massive projector in the middle of the space and a solitary figure sitting on a bench looking out of the gallery…

I’m sure it was not there before, but a huge roll down shutter dominated the space, allowing a fragment of the street outside to be visible within the normal ‘white cube’ of the gallery. It made the space less determined, less immersive, more fragile somehow and gave the illusion of a longer and narrow space; in other words, it was less cube-like.  The shutter opening was actually directed at The Breakfast Club doorway, from where I had just come from and this felt strange; and therefore why I now choose to divulge this opening story in my gallery review. I had already been in the gallery unknowingly and also possible watched, judged? by the gentleman looking out at the street. Had he recognised my shoes and coat, now in the gallery, had he contemplated my hesitation of entering the cafe, my determined steps through the rain back out into the street, or just saw me as a passerby, of feet and legs, an object one usually navigates around?

I also started to watch some people walk past. Their faces anonymous and concealed by the partially closed shutter. They became a generic passerby, moving through the city streets. I did not wonder where they were going, as they were characterless. Perhaps if I had stayed longer, my perception would have changed. It was indeed just a shutter, a normal opening in a building, but because I had never seen it before, it became something new and awkward that disrupted the gallery space. Yet it also became a moving image, a unrecordable film, a  possible adaptions of the camera obscura.

The Breakfast Club on a sunny day.

The next  artwork I came across involved a projection using very dated equipment, which  I think may have been a super 8. The contraption to run the footage became monolithic, complex and magnificent, the film  on the other hand was subtle, simple and incidental in comparison. The sequence of images, heightened even further the idea of contrasting scale. I imagined seeing barren landscapes, horizons and suspension bridges,  momentarily fracturing the actual reality of  camera pans along the edge of a skirting board and  a sheet of glass. I recalled  photos by Gursky and Jeff Wall, perhaps a Rothko.

unique pieces

Andreas Gurksy

Jeff Wall


So at times, the film was abstract, then a bleak horizon, then it revealed itself as edge of a room, perhaps of a gallery space; perhaps the glass being part of the Museum’s system of presentation and not an artwork in itself, perhaps momentarily left, but now made purposeful.

I continued to the upstairs gallery and asked the attendant if I could take photos,  but he said no. Here are images from the Whitecube website and an extract from the  press release explaining the content of the artwork in this room.

“Also included in the exhibition is the 16mm film ‘Cabinet of Prototypes’ (2009/2010). Made from research Islam conducted as an artist fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer and Arthur M. Sackler Galleries, it shows the stands, hooks, plinths and labels used to present artefacts in the collection.The artist brings these support structures that would normally remain concealed back into view, erasing their functionality and restaging them as sculptural objects in their own right.

Islam also includes armatures intended for the presentation of museum objects as components of the exhibition, retrieving these structures from invisibility and holding them up for display.Often folding the machinery of film into the works and including numerous self-reflexive allusions, the exhibition presents a layered meditation on the mechanisms of viewing and perception and the narratives of art making and display.”

I can not explain it more succinctly than this, so will describe the physicality of the gallery space instead. The room was really dark,  outside was rainy and grey. The gallery attendant was curled up on the window ledge, reading a book. When I sat down to watch the film, he stood up and was silhouetted by the window and continued to read.  I guess I noticed the entire space and not just the central artwork, perhaps now being primed by the artwork downstairs. There was no clear distinction between the projected image and the projector. At first, I viewed the equipment, then behind the film, as it was projected on to glass and therefore double-sided, then the content of the film itself. The ‘front’ of the film was made apparent by the benches placed against the wall, so being compliant to the ideal viewing angle, (although I think the artwork questions this)  I sat down to view the film.

Cabinet of Prototypes (still)
Duration: 7 minutes
16mm colour film, mute, vitrine and various installation materials

 The footage emphasised the importance of the museum fixtures, panning inside a jumbled cabinet of hanging devices. I had no idea of this context, and although the fragments at times looked like futuristic buildings, even aeroplanes, they always exposed themselves as something small  in scale and structure and a part or by-product of something else

It would have been ideal if my students had come along to this exhibition, as it drew parallels with the exhibition by Elmgreen & Dragset at Victoria Miro Gallery they had seen earlier that afternoon. The artists in question had extracted sections of gallery walls from all over the world and placed them on to framed canvas.

At first glance, you see just a white square, but with closer examination, along its edges, you see a history of  paint layers, different colours and thickness like the rings of a tree. Then you start to contemplate the prestigious of each gallery in relation to how it re-decorates. Does a thin paint application show a better gallery than the thicker ones? Do imperfections in brush stroke and consistency conduct a more lackadaisical approach, less authority or a more left-wing standing?  I pointed out the Hayward Gallery artwork and said to the few remaining students who had not already bombed through this space in disappoint, “My friend could have made this” thinking of the gallery assistants that re-paint the space after each show.  The artwork by Elmgreen & Dragsetat focussed my attention upon the gallery assistants who are often artists  themselves.

So to me, Ruma Islam and also Elmgreen & Dragset are making work about how hierarchical  significance is placed on certain artefacts. In a different way of questioning what constitute art in a gallery space, from that  per se of a pile of bricks, the actual bricks and mortar, the gallery hangings, the surfaces of which art is hung are brought to the fore and become the area of interest.

Elmgreen & Dragset

With the cold rain outside lashing down upon busy London streets, Islam’s  retro films, glowed warmly and provided a similar reassurance to the hay barn by Elmgreen & Dragset at Victoria Miro. They create artifices of space within  the confines of the gallery. The current installation includes a room full of hay, wooden beam constructions  and a model of a boy perched on top of the gallery balcony.

Of course the gallery space can build a fabrication of something inviting and homely and push against the white cube confines. If only I had laid down in the straw for a while and let my students find their own way back home, I could have almost convinced myself I was in a barn in another time and place.

Surface II- The Crypt- St Pancras

The Crypt Gallery, Euston Road, St. Pancras Church, London, NW12BA

Surface II is open from 13th July- 22nd July 2012 and is curated by Fiona Chaney and Louise Harrington


Louise Harrington, Fiona Chaney, Sophie Cordery, Regina Valkenborgh, Lyndsey Searle, David Donald, Hazel Walsh, Stephen Buckeridge, Juliet Guiness, Sarah King, Sinéid Codd, Susan Eyre, Kelvin Burr, Amy-Louise Watson, Jessie Rayat, Nina Ciuffini, Hélène Uffren,
Jo Lovelock, Sarah Rose Allen, Debbie Lyddon, Susan Francis, Samantha Blanchard, 
Maria Gaitanidi, Cynthia Ayral, Natasa Stamatari, Alexandros Alexandridis 

I went to the opening of Surface II at St Pancras Church today. There is a gallery space underneath the church which has regular curated exhibitions. The show I visited today was a collection of 26 artists exploring the theme of surface.  The gallery itself is an  intriguing surface, with bare walls, arches, passageways and cavernous spaces and some artists had integrated their work directly with the interior.  For instance, artists had used the  walls to project  films upon, which produced an interesting result, as the walls were made up of  exposed crumbling brick work. The footage appeared fragmented and decayed. There was a lot of interesting ideas about surfaces, using painting, photography, performance and installation.

The artwork below is by Susan Eyre. It was impossible not to touch the surface of her work, as the texture was so inviting.


Susan Eyre


Susan Eyre- detail

Another artwork that I enjoyed was by Regina Valkenborgh, made with a beer can pin hole camera.


Regina Valkenborgh

Louise Harrington

Louise Harrington

 Louise Harrington had created this sculptural photograph placed in one of the caverns at The Crypt.


Fiona Chaney

Artwork by Kelvin Burr; chalky, faded, sanded down surfaces, with pools of colour being revealed in cavities and  diffused and soft mark making over the smooth top layers.

Hazel Walsh

Hazel Walsh displayed a series of images, which looked almost like drawings. They were really beautiful and unusual.



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.


Signal Gallery, 32 Paul Street, London EC2A 4LB
Opening Times: Tues-Sat 12-6 pm, and by appointment
This exhibition has finished but it was good. I thought the best word to describe the exhibition is tasty, as it was full of riotous colour and texture, mediums and surfaces. The work spanned fine art to graphics, illustration to street art. This is a very cool gallery space with an fun appreciation of eclectic styles. I already have the next show in my diary.

About Signal GallerySignal Gallery was founded in 2007 with the primary aim to promote strong contemporary painting, with a particular emphasis on figurative work. We have developed an interest in all forms of artworks that meet these aims and have discovered a rich and fertile vein of creative talent in a number of creative areas.We now have a number of urban/street artists on our books as well as artists from more traditional art college, illustration and design backgrounds.For us at Signal, the primary focus for our exhibitions is to find artwork that we consider to be exciting and then have fun pushing the boundaries. As a young gallery we feel we can offer a valuable service by introducing our buyers to stimulating new artistic talent, as well as continuing to represent our more familiar established artists.



I went to see this exhibition ” YOU BLOW ME AWAY” in Rivington street near Old street, particularly drawn by their press release image below. I liked the look of that ‘squashed bunny in a bauble aesthetic.”
(Public vote winner of Catlin Prize 2012)

Here is a link to the website

Here is a picture of the front of the shop/gallery space

      The work features artists:

Andrea Hasler
Patrick Furness
Adeline de Monseignat  and is curated by Silia Ka Tung
The show “reveals the delicate and sensual in animal and human anatomy, albeit in a subversive way.”

 The exhibition runs until 14th July 2012