R o s i e B a r k e r
Lives and works in London
The River Thames is a powerful carrier and depositor of objects from the past and the present thrown, tipped or washed into its course. Collecting these objects disgorged onto the foreshore has become a compulsion for me – they intrigue, excite, amuse and delight. This exhibition gives me the opportunity to share some of these feelings and to highlight the qualities of some of these finds.
I begin with the general melee of some of the artefacts that can be found in the city river – cascading out of the upturned supermarket trolley. Most are fragments – the amount that survives, even in fragmented form is remarkable. Then I select and re-present artefacts to show their interest or beauty. Some are displayed singly – they are already entities; others are arranged as assemblages to give them more impact, to re-vitalise them or to show thoughts that occur to me when I contemplate my collection. You will see my flights of fancy. Natural objects also feature such as fossil corals that were amongst the ship’s ballast. The intricacy and diversity of oyster shells also attract me. A couple of years ago while doing wire sculpture I almost subconsciously found myself fashioning an oyster shell and binding it and one sculpture led to many more.
Finally, a word about my two-dimensional works: my constellation paintings are inspired by the fragments of iridescent glass or ‘stars’ found glimmering on the foreshore. I employed a watercolour technique used by Bernd Koberling for the glass fragments to convey their luminosity. As for my drawings – I have often thought that clay pipes, en masse, resemble fish and have tried to imbue the shoals of fish with movement and purpose; also to present the fossil corals as having attitude.
1 Beautiful Ballast, 2019 pencil on paper 29.5cm x 14.0cm
2 Pipe Shoals, 2018 pencil on paper 30cm x 42 cm
3 Cygnus (the swan) 2018 mixed media on paper 36cm x56 cm
4 Libra 2, 2018 mixed media on paper 30 cm x 53.5cm
5 Aquarius (the water carrier) 2019 mixed media on paper 54cm x 76cm
6 Oyster Rising, 2019 wire bound with silk or wool
7 Pipe Rest, 2019 wire, found metal, driftwood
8 Untitled, 2019 found metal, human hair, swan’s feather.
9 Untitled, 2019 found metal
10 Trolley, 2019 mixed media
11 Delft Spray, 2019 mixed media
12 Wall installation and trolley, mixed media
13 Corner installation, 2019 clay pipes
14 River Planets, 2019 metal, stone and glass balls
Photo credits: Rosie Barker, Cigdem Boru (no 14) Lucie Winterson
A b i g a i l D o w n e r
Lives and works in London
Thames Tide Turn
The dynamics of the flow and continuous changes of current preoccupy Abigail Downer’s creative process: Interpreting the weight and movement of tidal water as it is channelled through the Pool of London, Abigail is inspired to work with and against time to hold moments of change in a series of spatial print images.
A series of collograph prints, 4 groups of 9, distil current moments of a Spring tide on 22nd January 2019 at London Bridge between 2.15 pm and 2.45 pm.
The Thames Narratives exhibition provided a moment to consider the creative process, the visual resolution of an idea and past and present connections.
I was reminded that I had in fact walked, studied and interpreted the flow and fluid dynamics of water courses and tidal rhythms – Shorelines – at different locations over many years:
The continuous ebb of the river Calder in West Yorkshire that reminded me of the twisted fibres of rope that tighten or unfurl. This image became a repeat pattern for the Flood Alleviation Defences. The design recalled the rope walks of Wakefield, adjacent to the Hepworth Museum, and the twisted motif extends 4 miles upstream of the city centre.
The dramatic, twice daily rise and fall of the tide at Southampton Water that informed the “slip stream” landscaping and seating for a 2 mile stretch of Weston Shore. Working on the foreshore I was surprised by a moment of quiet followed by a sound – rather like a kettle coming to the boil as the tide turned. Was it imagined? As soon as I understood the dynamic pull and push of the tide a new rhythm occupied the vista and the acoustic changed.
At a more leisurely pace, the chalk waters of the Itchen Navigation – a canal and streams that meander for 13 miles between Winchester and Southampton. Threading through locks, weirs, gullies and a plateau of boating water a chain of eco systems flourish. Carved toll markers record the route and temporary LandDraws celebrated the biodiversity of the water course.
Lastly the pulsing light reflected off the surface of the lapping waters of the Grand Union Canal onto the ceiling of my studio and the sound of the spillway gushing as the lock gates opened and closed.
All of these moments are embedded within the Turn of the Tide series.
Abigail Downer exhibition photos (above) photo credit: Mischa Haller www.mischaphoto.com
1 Series 1: Turning of the Tide; Swell, 2019 collograph monoprints on paper 110cm x 150cm
2 Series 2: /Turning of the Tide; Heave, 2019 collograph monoprints on paper 110cm x 150cm
3 Series 3: Turning of the Tide; Shift, 2019 collograph monoprints on paper 110cm x 180cm
4 Series 4: Turning of the Tide; Whirl, 2019 collograph monoprints on paper 110cm x 175cm
I’m working with time and focus on how its passage can be seen in our surroundings. It makes different kind of hidden environments and structures visible.
I make notes about what I see and then develop the ideas further in my studio. This experience, the process of notations, develops into something new, previously hidden, creating the new original.
For “Thames narratives” I have used the photographic material I have collected during the last couple of years when visiting London. These notes can be of shadows collected from structures, marks on different surfaces, glimpses of something from edge of me perception, depending where I have been at from moment to moment.
I work on the ideas of reduction and repetition. During my working process the notes may get simpler or different notes may merge into one.
I live in Helsinki, Finland, and the distance plays its role in how I have worked on the notes. Memory fails and adds to or takes away something from the ideas and gives a new perspective to the theme. You can not name the original places and it’s not even necessary. Just experience the moment in time.
These works are woodcuts and monotypes on both canvas and Japanese paper. All works are unique prints from 2019.
1 346 Kilometres, 2019 Monotype and woodcut on canvas and paper, 120cm x 100cm
2 215 Miles, 2019 Monotype and woodcut on canvas and paper, 120cm x 100cm
3 Chart Datum i, 2019 Monotype and woodcut on paper 24cm x 30cm
4 Chart Datum ii, 2019 Monotype and woodcut on paper 24cm x 30cm
5 Chart Datum iii, 2019 Monotype and woodcut on paper 24cm x 30cm
6 Note i, 2019 Monotype and woodcut on paper 21cm x 17cm
7 Note ii, 2019 Monotype and woodcut on paper 21cm x 17cm
8 Note iii, 2019 Monotype and woodcut on paper 21cm x 17cm
L u c i e W i n t e r s o n
Lives and works in Hackney, London
Her practice based PhD research at UAL involves the interrelation between humans and nature in art.
To engage with the river in such a way that human intention or gesture doesn’t dominate, I employed John Cage’s idea of ‘chance procedure’. For this, you devise a collection of actions, choose a group of objects, paint colours, brushes etc, and then throw a dice to determine which combination you use. Chance procedure reduces the amount of choice and control you have thereby opening up a free space of potential which can also be thought of as an opening into nature. I also borrowed from John Cage the idea of painting around objects, so the human mark is limited to a tracing. You are following the shape of the object itself rather than making a human representation of it. Cage painted around river stones. The Thames, being a crucible of human and non-human elements throws up a more complex variety of stuff so I used what I found on the foreshore: Chalk, flint, bone, rubber, metal, ceramics and wood. However, chance procedure is only one element in the painting, there is unavoidably choice involved as well; which way up do you lay the stone? Where do you start circling the stone with the brush? at what point do you stop? But incorporating even an aspect of chance opens up a free space like a wind running through the process.
In this open element, I am looking for a moment where there is a mutual human/nature action at work. This is not a fixed destination or a precisely definable thing but it exists. The aim is to touch on it, make it visible and weave in and out of it.
1 Thames Narratives 2nd series-i, 2019 Giclee print and acrylic on canvas 127cm x 63.5cm
2 Thames Narratives 2nd series-ii, 2019 Giclee print and acrylic on canvas 127cm x 63.5cm
3 Thames Narratives 2nd series-iii 2019, Giclee print and acrylic on canvas 127cm x 63.5cm
4 Thames Narratives 1st series – ii, 2019 Giclee print and acrylic on canvas 127cm x 63.5cm
5 Thames Narratives – 2nd series i, 2019 Giclee print and acrylic on canvas 127cm x 63.5cm
6 Thames Narratives 1st series – iii, 2019 Giclee print and acrylic on canvas 127cm x 63.5cm