Richard Canning: The Space Between, 01-26/04/ 2019, Atypical Gallery, Belfast

Richard Canning graduated from the  Belfast School of Art, Ulster University, in 2018 with a series of  A1 size rectangles carrying line drawings.

The current exhibition still flirts with that mute agent of the change, accepting the artist’s intention to make large scale line drawings this time.

Drawing is a glorious chapter of humanity’s leaving marks.  Not always to describe the ownership of a territory, Canning stresses the difference between in and out. Belonging and not.


Canning situates the drawn motif in an empty abstract space evoking simultaneous being and nothingness in the world, in the perception, in any intention.

( 1943: Jean-Paul Sartre:

To become one, both the full and empty present themselves with the conviction of the bird’s song, the song, and the pause… echoed in the title of this exhibition: The Space Between

Cut out of the whole, the detail below makes visible the sensibility of the drawn line, stretched or waved or pulsating,  as well as its mimetic force, namely in the open door.

Trace of transitory being

The gallery handout introduces the thought of “intimacy” made visible through the empty spaces and unfinished lines.  I sense an approximation of going down the stairs and through that open door. Its lower vertical edge is equidistant, on a midpoint, between two other points:  the lowest loop of the left balustrade and the top end on the right one.   With the rest of the wall  (glass rectangles ?), it forges a right-angled triangle.

I perceive that as a kind of intimacy between the full and empty, between the mark and its ground.  Canning photographed the Student Union building opposite the Queens University in Belfast in the process of abandonment and demolition.

One of the exhibits in The Space Between translates this view into a line drawing.

Comparing the photography and drawing exposes Cannings process.

In addition, the absences and presences in the drawing remove some haptic weight of the material.  Instead, the drawn objects insist on forging something entirely different – visual discourse between what is visible.

The corner made by a row of many and the separate single invites thoughts on hierarchy and exclusion. The easy chair dominates and prevents the single chair to join the many, like a class barrier may do.  The size of the single chair on the right is wrong in relation to its position.  So are the last stacked chairs on the left of the easy chair.  That perception animates the composition and nudges it to obtain the symbolic meaning of inequality and division of power among people. I can almost “hear” the inflated ego of a person who might have sat in it.  This interpretation is validated by the switch in the scale of the identical chairs, the same design, and manufacture, yet, some are different, smaller.

Canning’s visual intelligence manages to be fresh and measured at the same time.  A good value.  He invents representational minimalism rooted in the prestige of technical drawing, of architectural drawings, but slipping away from the expected “correctness”.

Actually, the drawing dances away from the correctness in another exhibit.   Reminiscent of the freedom of the medieval marginalia, the drawings prefer the subtlety of privacy in visual art –  so rarely presented on this scale.

The viewer is offered a mute proposition inspired by compositional rules, angles, distances, lines, scale,  which Canning made visible. It is a loftier part of the imagination that these drawings activate.

Italo Calvino distinguishes between two types of imagination: the one that starts with a word and ends in an image, the other starts at the image and ends in words. (Six Memos…:83) Canning started with a word and a photograph (“Upon hearing of the imminent demise… as stated in the gallery handout paragraph 3) and ended with a drawing not afraid of absences.


Images courtesy Paula LARKIN.



STEIN HENNINGSEN:CITIZENGAGE, 23 February 2019, Ulster Museum, Belfast

Henningsen has worked with huge blocks of ice almost for a decade.

In  Helsinki 2012 he included running water in a bottle – which signals the particular characteristic of molecules that can be liquid, mass and vapour. That’s his scientific interest, that inserts mathematics and physics into his performances.

Bbeyond co-operated with NI Science Festival and Ulster Museum in Belfast to present a performance by a resident of a distant Svalbard,  the artist Stein Henningsen.  

Its title was given optical play with the meaning by setting the third syllable  ZEN in red colour.   A reference to the particular way of life and knowledge,  I suspect, it is more a playful pointer and less a solution to all the ills in the world today. 

In reading the title as two words, citizen +gage, the last two syllables gage open a Pandora box of meanings.  The Roget’s Thesaurus lists guarantee, bail, bond, collateral, deposit, earnest guaranty, pawn, security, surety, token, and a warrant.

The dictionary entry for gage connects it to the ethics: as a noun, it means a valued object deposited as a guarantee of good faith, as a verb, it is an offer of an object or one’s life as a guarantee of good faith.

I settle on the artist as a citizen to pledge a valued object to the audience: water as a condition for life, its trinity present here in man, flower and ice.  And as the grey clouds.

I do not, however, expect the performance to be an illustration of that intention, although Henningsen writes this: ” I believe it is extremely important at this moment in time to eschew isolationism and develop cultural networks in the current climate of international capitalist hegemony.”  

As a coincidence the Guardian today  (… ) published an article by George Monbiot which contains this:

“What just principle equates the numbers in your bank account with a right to own the fabric of the Earth?”

The fabric of the Earth … is that valued object Henningsen foregrounds in this performance.

Biology, physics, mathematics guide the background for the Citizengage first few minutes. Cut fresh red roses are placed in equidistant intervals on the terrace of the museum between two invisible parallels. That is a careful geometry in practice.  Although executed at flying speed the pathway marked by roses looks engineered to follow a straight line.

courtesy Bbeyond and the artist
courtesy Dominic Dillon

The roses will have no time to wilt for the lack of water, the ice block will grind them, one by one, out of life.

Photo Kasia Pagel unless otherwise stated)

The second part of this performance, pushing the ice block from one end of the terrace to the stairs is the slowest, consisting of progress and frustration, like the continuous play of plus and minus, move and stop.

Physics, geometry, and arithmetic were evoked to produce the optimal weight and shape, but could not predict the duration of the whole and each part/phrase.

He had to turn the block from its dry to surface lubricated by a thaw.

Changing position to focus the force of the whole body to shift the ice.

Pushing with his forehead, his shoulders, his back – and slipping.

The polarity of body and ice block prompts different encounters. The meaning depends on each viewer zeroing on some part that is made visible. The crushed roses signify impermanence of something treasured. The success or failure of the man to move the ice block wiggle out of the same fate, by slipping into a trust that the artist takes care not to harm himself.  The ice block is then delegated into submission as a silent victim (just a mute object).

However, Henningsen gets soaked, tired, exasperated, expelling brief noises born from a strain.

The authority of the art does not allow helpers to support him, even if there were any, even if it were a part of the intention.  He is condemned, like Sysiphus to be alone. Albert Camus ends his essay with””The struggle itself … is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy”. Henningsen evokes a desire for cognitive closure.

courtesy Bbeyond and the artist
courtesy Bbeyond and the artist

Moreover, he proposes that humanity must moderate its current intellectual myopia and increase bio-centric awareness.

He presents a flow in which a work of art meets the ‘world’. Not only because the ice cracks and the rose wilts.  He reduces his own existence to “bare life”, deprived of any other right then to continue pushing the ice block in one direction.  (If this appears like a loan from  Giorgio Agamben’s Il potere sovrano e la nuda vita, it is) 

The interconnectedness of environment and Brexit focuses onto the third, split second, part – pushing the ice block down the stairs, crashing it.  The crossover, intentional or not, reverberates between the visible and audible, the words about the cliff, crash, no deal…  insist on the similarity with crashing a block of ice.

courtesy Bbeyond and the artist

This interpretation is not compulsory – only possible, moreover it would fall under the Deleuze’s warning of inadequacy.  Given the long chain of Henningsen’s performances using a block of ice, sheets of ice, water etc, the significance of water as a subject is not in dispute. This performance draws attention to the need to recognize the true place of mankind in the universe. Starting with nature, here and now.  This performance converged on being-in-the-world, where art and nature are co-dependent. Its meaning may be arbitrary, culture-specific. For me, the meaning of this performance is what  E Panofsky somewhere called ” natural meaning of art” as a challenge to habitual thought.


Images courtesy Dominic Dillon, Bbeyond, Kasia Pagel, Stein Henningsen


09/04/2019 – I came across this:

Francis Alÿs, Paradox of Praxis I (Sometimes Doing Something Leads to Nothing), 1997. © Francis Alÿs. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner.

pushes ice unnamed

Oh, the lure of nothingness!


Karl Hagan + Aimee Melaugh: Alternate Perspective, Platform, Belfast, Feb 7-28 2019 -Part 2 Karl Hagan



Adam, 2019, oil on canvas,25x29cm

The first look at Adam registers eruption of intense opposition of hues aiming at unease via spacial disorder.

Recognisable eyes, nose, open mouth  – would invite the meaning indicated by this small painting title. The macabre dissolution of the shape dismembered from the rest of the cranium and neck, as well as bizarre flat surface drip-dropped with diluted hues while the background top is treated with precision near bona fide Ellsworth Kelly.  Hagan invades the painting with elements of the nightmare, the cranium explodes in roughly defined coloured particles as if denying to ever be parts of the head.

The question who is Adam is left without answer. A friend? The biblical Adam? Or both at once? The insecure transience of meaning appears as a deliberate part of Hagan’s practice.

The macabre roughly modulated hue (yellow) allows the living eyes to look believable but denies it to the rest.  In that sense,  Adam  is reminiscent of Goya’s Saturn devouring his son, of its ability to render the body both living and dead.

The unexpected facial disorder signals unease of the theme as well as that of the painter who revisits the morbid, menacing elements in his largest canvas, After Goya,

After Goya, 2019, oil on canvas, 250×305 cm

The drama of light and dark achieves ferocious intensity in reds and tiny speckles of white. Hagan’s trust in geometry to hold the menacing macabre elements is not misplaced.  The rectangular planes allow reading the falling bodies as paintings  inside the painting, dislodged from the innocence of the vertical wall by  falling into  a surreal surrounding: cloud in front of a grid, dark triangle like a sail on water  on the left, fat block at the top that  appears to continue outside the frame, two blind spots placed on a diagonal corners of the rectangle,  illogical deep space on  left top – all contribute to a possible judgment that the painting is confused.  My reading disagrees.  The whole crystalises into transient perceptions of each different motif as falling into the hot cauldron of sameness.  It is about trauma, dislocation, turbulence, to invade mind in the way Goya did in Enterrar y callar ( Disasters of War,1810 -14), Bury them and keep quiet.  Hagan gives the opposite advice.

Karl Hagan is dedicated to and serious about painting’s power to invade mind.  The six paintings exhibited at the Platform have nothing to do with “ego importance” and all with the ability to apply what he learns from and values in significant paintings of the past. He constructs his own history of painting rooted in affinity of feeling and morality, rationality and its opposite.  He studies the chosen art carefully to learn. The After Goya appears painted a la prima, however, a study of the cloud recently exhibited at Engine Room betrays a careful preparation.

The soft modeling of tones of the hue in this study are like Goya’s fresco in the San Antonio de la Florida where he used no brush but a sponge, yet managed to render the final version in crispy high tones.

A history painting used to be the top Europen academic category of visual art after replacing the hegemony of biblical stories. Modernism flirted not only with abandoning the narrative painting but also with rejecting the history of art and any remnants of mimicking the observable reality. The inner image took over.  The current generation of young painters are building up the courage to restore some of the most intriguing power of brushes and paints, that which Robert  Ryman called “seeing of painting”, and which Leonardo da Vinci called “mute poetry”. Hagan tests the proposition on contemporary scenes, accessible via printed photographs.

Lacrymogène2019, oil on canvas, 33x36cm

Lacrymogène = Tear Gas connects to the Gilets Jaunes protests in France in 2018.  The painting rehearses newspaper photographs like this one and abstracts it out of time and place. accessed online.

The painting deprives the edifice of stability and clarity seen through the lens while dissolving the transition from matter to experience through chromatically smooth vapours.

Containment, 2019, oil and silkscreen on canvas, 160x190cm

Right angles, vapours, darkness, and exact descriptions (eg: yellow fence – gate) are mobilised to match some indelible strangeness of tactile experiences. The image mines the spatial uncertainty of abstraction by confident geometry paired to high keys (yellow, orange) while the rest is dark and smoky, suggestive of  no escape.  The image is transparent to allow various associations, however, it locks them into the material character of details, eg rectangles (banners? buildings?)

How You Fall Doesn’t Matter, 2019, oil on Canvas, 160x200cm

War image, transparent to apply to any conflict,  thus marshaling deep distress that humanity keeps failing to do without killing each other.  While it is a “window” into history,  the spacial disorder wrestles it out of a particular historical event, sounding a profound J’accuse. The light peppers the composition like shrapnels might, like automatic guns do. It aims to access that quiet part of our mind where the distaste collaborates with hope.

Its noise, its polluted air, its destruction removes any signs of heroism (so loved by socialist realism for ex), letting in the sense that the man operating the gun is a victim.  Hence, this image wears black.



Bela Lugosi, 2019, oil and silkscreen on canvas, 170x200cm

I am not familiar with this actor and his life story.  The painting’s title gives the clue to its subject  – and there are also visual clues to his playing the Count Dracula: the trio of threatening hands.   For those in the know, this would be a transparent image.  It gives me visual access to some boundaries between real and pretended, known and guessed…

This complex composition is nevertheless centreless. I find that telling.


Images courtesy Karl Hagan and Platform.




Karl Hagan + Aimee Melaugh: Alternate Perspective, Platform, Belfast, Feb 7-28 2019 -Part 1 AIMEE MELAUGH


Bhopal 168 x 200 cm aimee melaugh
BHOPAL, 2019, oil on canvas, 168x200cm

I do not need to know the data, the exact time and place.  The arms and hands are those who work with them and who are undernourished. They come to the foreground through green wilting vegetation. The blue tonality replaces the normal skin tone.  The yellow and pink explode above the people’s heads in front of smoky grey tones.  The diagonal composition divides the cause from its impact as an indication of the sequence that caused the demise of life.

In her notes, Melaugh refers to  “theory of affect” by Baruch Spinoza.  I do not know that passage.  In relation to his statements in The Ethics, I sense that it may be near to his thinking about “mode”.

“ID5: By mode, I understand the affections of a substance or that which is in another through which it is also conceived. A mode is what exists in another and is conceived through another. Specifically, it exists as a modification or an affection of a substance and cannot be conceived apart from it. In contrast to substances, modes are ontologically and conceptually dependent.” (Book One, Ethics accessed on

Spinoza makes it central to his theory of knowledge that to know a thing adequately is to know it in its necessity, as it has been fully determined by its causes. In the  Bhopal painting, the need to work and the need to use volatile materials are present in the careful identification of hands and industrial barrels, both ontologically necessary and sufficient.  The descriptive mode ends in the diagonal of wilted plants with a partly hidden warning that reads “hazard” on the yellow ground.  The surrealist element of hands growing out of one barrel and of deadly vapours escaping from another indicate the connection to the explosion rendered in buoyant energy of wilful abstraction.

Both painterly modes are cherished for their singularity and conceptual dependency on the subject.  No doubt where the meaning has its cause.

Aside ,2019. oil on canvas, 163 x 200 cm
Aside, 2019, oil on canvas, 163x200cm

The decision to evaporate the figure and not the three hands as if still engaged in some normal activity is an image unimaginable outside some disaster. The collapse is not yet complete, the perfect seat for no one to sit on screams visual ” j’accuse”.  It does not address a particular perpetrator thus making its reason somewhat commonplace for humanity.  The price? Everything else disintegrates, evaporates, changes its substance. Apocalypse now?

The paintings on a smaller scale invite methods of surrealism and of the informel to forge strong compositions capable of holding together accidental occurrences of negligence.  And of different time and speed.

Blood-shod 28 x 32 aimee melaugh
Blood-shod, 2019, oil on canvas, 28x32cm


Green sea 36 x 31 cm aimee melaugh
Green sea, 2019, oil on canvas, 36 x 32

Green is slower than the red.

Gun position 160 x 190 cm aimee melaugh
Gun Position, 2019, oil on canvas, 160×190

In reference to her grandfather experience during the WW2  this painting exchanges the human fragility for the destruction of the seats for the gunners. See-through seats are reminiscent of sheets of papers on which the various decrees, calls to arm, and agreements may have been written. While the (still)  living naked male appears both safe (the modulation of the muscles) and evaporating (the ever-receding tonality turns his volume into a ghostly plane). The female leg shooting out of some roofs on the horizon  – could be just a wooden model for selling stockings. Or not. Seats and houses are crumbling. And so is the control of our destiny in any war. The case for peace is ever present.

Tuam 210 x 195 cm aimee melaugh
Tuam,2019, oil on canvas, 210x195cm


Icarus? A sexless nude body as if calling in distress moves away from a tiny religious sculpture detailed in the lower region. That headless statuette is silent and as if protected from the troublesome accusation by the purple body.  The tone is ordered to be between life and death forever… akin to the belief in Purgatory? Or eternal life in hell?  The red ground above could suggest that precipice.  A pale variant of the gesture appears on the right-hand side, in front of the two columns lit up by the light from outside.  Behind it something like a bookshelf, volumes of documents? A revelatory moment?

The right-hand side of the Tuam describes some earthly conditions: the power of the architectural order preferred in churches, thus power of the church.  And the flowing habit invites association with nunnery.  Or with actual evidence:

7 Mar 2017 – The Tuam mother and baby home, where human remains have been discovered, was “a chamber of horrors”, the Irish PM has said. (

7 Jun 2014 – Catherine Corless’s research revealed that 796 children died at St Mary’s. …


The painting – mute and timeless- accesses our innermost conscious responses directly, not subject to logic or grammar or correctness.  Perhaps that is what Melaugh had in mind when she recalled Spinoza.


Images courtesy the artist.




Tony Hill and Susan Hughes, Pollen Studios Gallery, Belfast January 17 -19,2019 —

My essay on Tony Hill‘s art exhibited at this three days event is on Here I wish to focus on Susan Hughes. I shall fail to make justice to her multiple talents. On the last afternoon, she played the violin, the performance I missed. A sample from another concert given at her 2018 exhibition at […]

via Tony Hill and Susan Hughes, Pollen Studios Gallery, Belfast January 17 -19,2019 —

Tony Hill and Susan Hughes, Pollen Studios Gallery, Belfast January 17 -19,2019

My essay on Tony Hill‘s art exhibited at this three days event is on

Here I wish to focus on Susan Hughes. 

I shall fail to make justice to her multiple talents.  On the last afternoon, she played the violin, the performance I missed.

A sample from another concert given at her 2018 exhibition at Framewerk, Belfast,  is accessible on

She connects the violin to her visual art in a way we all connect sound and vision when staying/walking in any environment. That connection is not causal,  both perceptions happen in parallel, with unexpected crossings over, sometimes one overrules the other

as apparent in the line of her memory of arctic terns:”…the island was quiet…” (the birds were not)

The absence of human activity forging that silence is significant. She admits the forming influence of her father’s knowledge of birds, and her living on islands: Rathlin, UK, Hrisey, Iceland as significant conditions for her art.

Kría is the Icelandic word for Arctic tern
In June 2018 I spent one month in Northern Iceland on a small island which has the largest breeding colony of Arctic terns in Europe. The island was quiet (almost dead in fact) in terms of human activity but the birds, whales, and midnight sun kept life vivid, strange and exciting. Sleep was never deep, dreams were always remembered (

Noticeable geometric “bleeding” from terns’ wings and beak may appear as a whimsical addition. Until – I saw Hughes’s snapshot of terns in the air (below) – the narrow line of their tail shooting out as if from the wings.


Also, on her website, she linked two experiences across time and distance: the flying birds and casting bronze 4000 years ago…

At a Bronze Age symposium in Kerry this August I explored ancient and sophisticated processes, learning from others, offering my music in return for their knowledge. In bronze, casting sprues are created in the mould to allow air to escape the outermost points and most fragile ends of the object. After the intensity of the symposium where we essentially went back in time 4000 years, these sprue lines began to present themselves in my recent paintings of terns; helping to find structure in space, to support the sharpened fragile points of the birds, to let the air escape… (ibidem)

Remembering Bronze, Island Series, December 2018, oil on wood

The above small painting is significant not just for its inspiration (the symposium)  but also for connecting to all other exhibits: the snow paintings, the assemblages, and the videos,  by its reduced palette. It is not completely gris-en-gris, whispers of blue and other shades of grey, typical for northern daylight infuse it with life.

The five videos

Alarm, and Bruresmarsi (Wedding March) both Norway, 2015

Rue Light,  West Light, both Rathlin, 2016

Fairy Pylon, Kerry, 2018, (whistle Robert Harvey)

appear in full on

Some editing decisions are diminishing the aesthetic experience, e.g. the black dividers of the flow, whereas, the sober lengths/duration holds the viewer’s attention. Thankful for the absence of egocentric abundance.

The small objects  Snow Paintings, December 2018 (mixed media on card) are confident in association with mid 20th assemblage and Frank Stella’s mixed media as well as earlier Modernism.

Frank Stella: La scienza della pigrizia, 1984. NG Washington accessed on Wikipedia_

The display on the shelf accentuated the similarity to small handheld sculptures, whereas the layers of material and modulated hues claim painterly domain as their own.

It would appear, where Arp insists on a chance, Hughes focuses on the match between the shapes and experience of wintery sensations while making space for a memory of home.

(Statement on the gallery handout reads: Much of this work was created in Hallingdal, Norway in December surrounded by deep snow with a few hours of soft daylight. While influenced by these sensations and colours I was drawn back to the coast and relationships of home as subject matter) There is more of her texts on

Other echoes of Modernism, e.g. Juan Gris, Le Gueridon, 1922  in objects penetrating each other to awaken association with the sound, are not necessarily intended, yet, appeal with the allowance for different media.

I am happy to risk being wrong, as the links are with significant art. Hughes’ images are comfortable and confident in that company.


Images courtesy Susan Hughes unless otherwise stated.



PXVIII,Platform Arts Members Show, 2018, 6-29 December 2018, Platform Gallery, Belfast

Installation view – from L: G Carson, Damian Magee

If you think that the installation looks like many other exhibitions in Europe over the last two decades,  you may be acutely aware of the spirit of the age,  borrowed from the German language as  Zeitgeist.  Philosophers associated with that idea include Herder and Spencer and Voltaire. It counters the Great Man theory popularized by Thomas Carlyle which sees history as the result of the actions of heroes and geniuses.

For compariosn I selected an image available online from the 2018 exhibition by two Slovak artists


Roman Ondak (b 1966) and Štefan Papčo (b 1983), from their exhibition titled Sky Gravity (19 Jan – 16 March, 2018, Zahorian and Van Espen Gallery Bratislava) Ondak called his  exhibition in  South London Gallery (2026/17)   “The Source of Art is in the Life of a People” – a claim easily adapted to Platform members, e.g. Aoife Earley: Street Series 1-3 (Digital photo on c-type photo paper), 2018 taken by iPhone7; “I enjoy the convenience and connectivity of my phone camera” (gallery handout) 

Earley also explores the chance mobile phone photography harvests while the photographer is mobile, i.e. driving or driven.  It may appear obvious for now and here. The implication is that the viewer’s mind drives the aesthetic experience.

Let me digress to test that.

In 1966, the philosopher Karl Popper conducted an informal experiment:  During a lecture at the University of Oxford, he turned to his audience and said: ‘My experiment consists of asking you to observe, here and now. I hope you are all cooperating and observing! However, I feel that at least some of you, instead of observing, will feel a strong urge to ask: “What do you want me to observe?”’

Then Popper delivered his insight into observation:

‘For what I am trying to illustrate is that, in order to observe, we must have in mind a definite question, which we might be able to decide by observation.’

The question for Earley appears to be the value and power of spontaneity. Of a flow which she arrests.

Andrew Glen(b1981) makes the “curious relationship between object, experience and artist”  into a locus that facilitates the choice of a found object.   Yes, it nods towards the Arte Povera, yet, it has an up-to-date root: Glen’s personal collection he started in 2015. On the far wall  the blue-green  Bute wool&found objects is a part of the ongoing series  ATOMICA.   

The cabinet and attached objects carry the title  “E. Gomme”, enigmatic for those of us who do not know the history of the G Plan furniture.  (

Andrew Glenn is recycling a useful object into a free art by canceling its usability, not miles away from Duchamp a century ago.

When a person visits an art exhibition they carry in their mind both “closed” and “open” questions.

Installation view: D Magee, G Carson, video Alex Brunt.

The closed questions are “a priori” thoughts, likely to be connected to their previous experiences with and memories of art. They refer to similarities and differences. The open ones are those formed by dynamics of curiosity and creativity of the viewer on one hand and the power of the work of art (the artist).

Hayley Gault

It is not a straightforward process –  ‘All observation must be for or against a point of view,’ is how Charles Darwin put it in 1861. Hayley Gault included two long paragraphs in the gallery handout to explain how her curatorial practice which focused on environment and landscape was supposed to champion “ the value of exchange and types of transparency”.  She printed a stack of sheets listing similarities between her father, a farmer, and herself: an artist, curator, activist, researcher, writer.  She named this installation Things me and my father have in common. 

H Gault

Its roots are in installation art, in conceptual art, in early modernism minus Dada,  in the art and language tradition of the 1950s. It also echoes, perhaps unwillingly, the not so glittering removal of specific talent as the indispensable protector of visibility. (I have in mind those periods when we see the hegemony of ideology). Her exhibit confirms Ondak’s statement that “The Source of Art is in the Life of a People”. That includes the visual artist’s ingenuity in crafting questions, expectations, hypotheses, and theories to make sense of their subject – visibly.

This exhibition strips the objects of flattering their makers’ importance.  Instead, it matters what is vitally located in each exhibit.

Christopher McCambridge revives the conviction of William Morris that so-called lesser arts are equal to the rest because they are life supporting. Except, he moves in the other direction – towards the removal of the original practical use see


Alteration, 2018, found fabric, dress, embroidery thread, an embroidery ring

Hand stitching the fabric aims to remember the hand weaving of the cloth before it was more often machine – made.  Both processes (sewn by machine and by hand) are legibly there, so it is not a case of canceling one and replacing it. It is a method of a metamorphosis of one object becoming another. Remember Ovidius Naso? He seduced even  P Picasso to illustrate metamorphoses…

Here, it occurs by replacing the very value of use championed by W Morris.  Yet, McCambridge entertains a similar aim:  to make an object recognized as an aesthetic object by replacing the machine with a hand.

Something similar to a replacement appears on the surfaces of  Dreaddgerm, which Gerard Carson describes/defines as ” a manifestation of stratified oily techno objects, dredged from antediluvian sludge territories morphed into objects that speculate on the dark forces of techno-capitalist time”.  (Gallery handout)

Quite! I give up, but do not deny the link to the 1918 manifesto by Tristan Tzara quoted below.

To impose your ABC is a natural thing—
hence deplorable. Everybody does it in the form of crystalbluffmadonna, monetary system,
pharmaceutical product, or a bare leg advertising the ardent sterile spring. The love of
novelty is the cross of sympathy, demonstrates a naive je m’enfoutisme, it is a transitory,
positive sign without a cause.
But this need itself is obsolete.


Gerard Carson may agree with some of Tzara nonsense as nonsense, but in visual terms, he is a dead serious player for tacit communication between optic, haptic, and illusionary.

Dreddgerm, 2018, wood, thermoplastic, epoxy resin, silicone, borax crystals, PVA glue, chain, spraypaint

Consider his Statement

Stretched like elastic, it’s untethered from hermetica, blooming from conjunctions.

A speculation on futures via a tenuous materiality that is constantly on the verge of dissipating.

(Re)Mixing  from the mutating jungle of matter, feeding through a viscous interstitial mesh.


I see the chain and I read a sculpture, a rough immobile silent sibling to the chatting mobiles by Alexander Calder.  Its prettiness gives way to terrorizing sadness of broken lives,  broken by those dark forces, he mentioned.  In between the cascading down and never reaching the ground, it seems to stutter J’accuse (thinking of Emile Zola). And then it wiggles out and pretends that nothing matters, whispering: I am a construct.

Rachael Campbell Palmer 

exhibits installation with sculpture and print. It may be thought of as three objects not connected, but the way they are placed is softly considered to signal togetherness.

She gives it all one title: “Untitled (Inventory), 2018 (polyester casting resin, concrete, plaster, digital print). Maybe she entertains the thought of a chain, and not just of grouping. After all -she prefers traditional techniques – a kind of a chain, a thread,  between now and before. In her statement on the gallery handout she singles out the connections to locations and memory and preference for multiples, both an association with time. The supreme chain.

Image result for

Her trees(or magnified weeds)  are like personages  – meeting in a meadow … I hesitate to rule out conflict, or an accident.

Moving away from the back wall, the visible space is dominated by Damian Magee. 

Theta Waves”,2018, Graphite on paper, brass eyelets, paracord

Its dorso is empty.

He suggests that it is a “depiction”  of Gigantomachy from the Pergamon Altar, based on a low resolution digital image.  (Gallery notes, image downloaded from Wikipedia))

It would appear that the drawing selects a perceived rhythm of the volumes as a wave of subjective attention.  Magee makes another claim for his drawing: ” This treatment of a fragment …seeks to explore the ways in which time has informed phenomenological shifts in the experience of cultural objects.”   As I understand it in relation to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit published in 1807 and based on a precious philosophical intuition: consciousness is not a completed institution, it is constructed, transformed to become other than itself.  As if the selected wave is how the sculptural fragments appeared to Magee’s consciousness when he aimed to capture the essence of what he observed.  That subjectivity is one of many possible.

Iolanda Rocha  lets her subjectivity move on and on, claiming equivalence for each state of what she saw, recalled or imagined.  Those rich pickings are downsized by the summary title “Schema”. 

The seven small paintings/prints (cyanotype and gesso on wood (all 2018)  do not tell a story that has one beginning and one end.    Each stands confidently alone and together as if there were identity between the two states of being.


However the absence of nature – beyond signaling the atmosphere – become a significant sign of anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism.


Hannah Casey-Brogan aims at the intimacy of seeing, viewing, by altering the expected, normal,  when observing a small format image.  Her “Untitled” (oil on aluminium, 2018) does not fully escape into abstraction, allowing the red become an arch above a melee of either a very distanced crowd or some insect, or just a multitude of dark traces.

Another small-scale object is made with several materials: text, paper, vinyl, glass and frame. Jane Butler ‘s School of Thought #4,2017.


Reminiscent of the preoccupations by the Art and Language of 1967 -70  – it seems to be re-visiting the group’s early conceptual concerns as shown in the example below.

Map to Not Indicate 1967 Art & Language (Terry Atkinson; Michael Baldwin) born 1942, born 1945 Presented by the Institute of Contemporary Prints 1975
 Alex Brunt installed a digital video, 19 mins, 2018 titled  Spit and Honey,
both those materials descending onto a head of a willing person.
Reminiscent of cinema verite it exposes the visceral, the setup, the observed, fragmenting the whole, perhaps in a hope of lessening the chance of absence of any subversion of the intention, by sympathy or its opposite.
The exhibition felt like a sanctuary of vanishing ideals.  Subdued.
Images courtesy Platform, and Simon Mills.