Messy Kitchen | Children and Family Workshops in The Kitchen

Oriel Davies invites children and their families to take part in creative activities and workshos on Saturday mornings in more >

Upcycled Clothing | Jill Rolfe

4 Sessions | Mondays 13, 20, 27 November & 11 December 2017 | 10am – 15.30pm Tutor: Jill Rolfe
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Drawn from Observation | Tereska Shepherd

4 Sessions | Tuesday 03, 17 October & 07, 21 November 2017 | 10am – ... more >

Oriel Davies Gallery
The Park, Newtown
Powys SY16 2NZ
Telephone: +44 (0) 1686 625041
Fax: +44 (0) 1686 623633
Email: desk@orieldavies.org
Monday - Saturday 10am-5pm
Free Admission

Reviews

Beyond Pattern - Part 2

Exhibition: Beyond Pattern
Date: November 2009
Writer: Christopher Collier
Publication: Interface
Publisher: AN

...Continued from Part 1

Also hinting at Platonic undertones with its use of shadow is Pamela So's Boudoir. Its shadows emphasise this recurrent notion of the ephemeral and they are constituted from the reflected gleam of a suspended mirror. The mirror itself is old and plain but the intricate talc patterns upon its surfaces suggesting glamour-drugs; its glimmering, reflected light; the title 'Boudoir' all point to some ambivalence between glamour and banality: perhaps a banality of glamour. The word 'Glamour' derives from a term for an illusory enchantment and with its interplay of reflected light and shadow that is rendered null by the viewers approach for closer inspection this work can be deconstructed along those lines.

Other works seek to deconstruct themselves or at least the signs from which they draw their imagery. So's lightboxes subtly suggest the cultural encodings that pattern consciously or unconsciously manifests. In these photographs an understated subtext hints at that globalised economy of signs glimpsed in Pearce-Jone's Beam. In the apparently banal, and indeed kitsch surroundings, of her photographs meet the patterned encodings of eastern and western culture in a reproduced Klimt painting, a replica traditional Chinese vase and an Indian style carved box. Both east and west meet through the culture of representation, reproduction and signs. The artist herself with her dual eastern/western heritage manifests this allusion. Only the kitsch element of these patterned commodities would suggest there is no longer any genuine meaning located in the production of their pattern, they are patterns of the postmodern condition. It is a notion that finds itself most obviously expressed in Adam King's Ambivalent Apocalypse, the absolute ambivalence of a world reduced to mere signs and representations of itself finds the meaningless equivalence of dinosaurs, dodos, soldiers and glitter encrusted skulls. This ostensibly playful explosion of kitsch bursts freeform from the wall in some kind of brash explosion of neon colour and interchangeable imagery. A sly snake and apple hint at the Fall, but this religious meaning is rendered equivalent and empty by the juxtaposed dinosaurs. The war machines and memento mori, the locusts and fighter jets represent to us a spectacle of the end of the world. Pattern here is the infinitely complex and shifting pattern of networks, this is no longer the epistemological pattern of classification, it resides merely in the interconnection of interchangeable, free-floating images. Despite the professed intention of the artist, the work for me gives physical form to this picture of the postmodern.

There is something else going on in this exhibition, something quite new, something intriguing. I began to perceive that it might perhaps be possible to circumscribe some semblance of unity onto this free-floating fragmentation of pattern through the act of constituting it against its other, against its absence. This idea began to form upon the the work of Henna Nadeem for it is this constitution upon exclusion that the work attempts. Her collages physically deconstruct the pages of western magazines via the removal of patterns, patterns drawn from traditionally Islamic and Japanese imagery. In this act we are reminded of Agamben's concept of the State of Exception, that the unity of the whole is constituted in that which is excluded from it, perhaps the Orientalist other, the void, the immigrant. It is a vaguely parallel concept to that attested to in Lacan and the lack that constitutes desire and human relations or in Badiou and Zizek and the void that constitutes the set. It is the void, the gaps in the pattern, that constitutes Stokes' Hampshire, the void in the form of shadow that constitutes Pearce-Jone's Beam or So's Boudoir, the white paper as much as the pencil or ink that constitutes Bertola's Bluestockings drawings or Stokes' pencil work. It is hinted at in the Platonic ideas that hover around the shadow, the kitsch archetype and in the event that finds itself in the relationality of Bertola and Messam's collaborations with the local populus.

Out of fragmentation a unity begins to emerge, Nisha Duggal's Wherever you are in the world you take up the same volume of space, suggests this constituting void in its title. Again taking the language of play and ephemerality, here hinting at computer game icons; the overlooked, kitsch and almost chintzy nature of the pigeon; she creates drawings which become images given a totality through their constituent parts. It achieves the result, in the some ways in the fashion of Lucy Skaer's Three Possible Edges, of a construction of a unity from myriad disparate fragments which whilst it problematises methods of conveyance does not preclude them entirely. In the fragmented objects of Brennand-Wood that form that symbolic unity of the circle, similarly in the multitudinous repeating elements that comprise Fitzmaurice's You Don't Say, (Short Circuit) pairing which unite to form a flowing cicuit reminiscent of the symbol for infinity, again we find a unity. Here it is the infinite as much as the void that constitutes the unity of the subject. Apparently fragmented chaos assumes form when circumscribed by its other, its inversion or its absence. In this we find something quite remarkable, and quite remarkably of the moment in this exhibition.

This concept finds expression in the recurrent linking of pattern as architectural form with the notion of pattern as the preserve of folk-art. Bertola links embroidery to architecture, Messam again relates the traditionally folk medium of textiles to architecture, Pearce-Jones' work lies in an ambivalence between the two. In this conflation of folk and architecture, as in the collision between kitsch and the ideal Platonist form, we find a deconstruction of the dialectical representation of high and low art, fine art and craft. Not just this however, but also permanence and impermanence, the ephemeral and the ideal, the traditional domains of male and female, peasant and bourgeoisie, production and consumption, work and play are also deconstructed. A unity constituted not upon its dialectical other but upon its absence, the void that circumscribes it, begins to emerge. In this perhaps the fascinating complexity and initial fragmentation of the exhibition begins to take shape, begins to assume its overarching pattern.

Beyond Pattern is brilliantly constructed exhibition that leads its audience into so many intellectual possibilities throughout the wide conceptual canopy of pattern. It brings an initially disparate selection of artists and practices and with the delicacy of lace, intricately interweaves them into an enlivening, enlightening, challenging and fascinating pattern of unity. In the process it provides glimpses at an insightful and elegantly captured narrative snapshot of the present cultural moment. This is too intricate an interweaving to write about fully here, there is an amazing level of complexity beneath an initially innocuous surface that will certainly reward the thoughtful visitor with ever expanding avenues of interest and possibility. If our perceptions of pattern are that it implies only the decorative then this exhibition does not so much go beyond pattern as beyond, far beyond our expectations of what it might entail.

Christopher Collier is an artist and writer currently studying for an MA in Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths