Ben Coode-Adams Celia Pym Clare Iles Freddie Robins
Paris Essex Sharon Leahy-Clark Stafford Schmool Will Cruickshank
Exhibition preview Saturday 15 April 2-6pm
Exhibition open Saturday 15 April to Saturday 10 June 2017
Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm
This exhibition brings together a diverse group of artists who revel in playful approaches to the making of their work.
The exhibition is presented as a series of ‘scenes’ – areas and spaces have been created that proposes connections between certain groups of works, and points out some of the decorative elements that link them to interior design and domestic spaces. It also provides the opportunity for changing moods and intensities to take place through the exhibition, as if passing through a series of environments or states of being.
This approach challenges standard exhibition staging and presentation, combining methods that include the overlaying of works, using display techniques that might more commonly be found in museums or retail outlets, creating structures and divides to control the path of the viewer, and devising new ways to present work and engage the audience with it. The exhibition and it’s layout has been defined through collaboration between Ben Coode-Adams and Kaavous Clayton, inviting artists to produce and contribute specific works that could be used as structural devices, and positioning works in ways that reconfigure the space and define routes through the exhibition.
The majority of the works are of a very human scale, being either made from objects that we use daily, or made objects that we would use daily: Clare Iles has cut up, painted and reconfigured former items of furniture to create abstract sculptural pattern-forms that flux and flow; designer Stafford Schmool has reconfigured bicycle seats and handlebars, combining them to present a series that references Picasso’s Bull’s Head sculpture, produced a functional work that directly references the human body, and made a low table for the display of other artists’ works; Paris Essex has made a series of Crazy Blankets; Freddie Robins’ The Perfect Skins are knitted replicants of the skin of a human body; and Celia Pym is showing hand-knitted, crocheted and darned repairs of gloves, socks and other everyday items (along with a collaborative piece, The Imperfect, that is a repair of one of Freddie Robins’ moth-eaten works).
Another link between the works is how they have been made. There is a sense that they have been constructed through a process of collaging, or accreting – by taking a starting point and then adding something to it. This is certainly the method Ben Coode-Adams uses to make his paintings – by making an image or doodling something and then allowing the image to develop in response to that. Clare Iles’ work also builds up through a collaging technique, cutting up furniture and then re-assembling it as in a collage. Paris Essex pass their blankets back and forth, with each of the partnership (Carolyn Clewer and Tiphaine de Lussy) working on it and then handing it back to be developed, as a sort of making-game. Will Cruickshank’s works are a collision of techniques that come out of extreme experimentation. He turns large pieces of timber using a homemade lathe constructed from a cement mixer, then wraps them with threads to create intricate patterns, providing a high contrast between the delicate and the coarse.
The construction of Sharon Leighy-Clark’s highly detailed drawings on silk or handmade paper show an attention to the detail of the minute mark-making, and this process of image building can be seen to connect to the knitting, painting, darning, turning, threading, winding and other techniques employed by the other artists. This intricacy can draw the viewer in to the minutiae of the details, and when placed alongside the building blocks that are used to construct Clare Iles’ objects for example, provide a difference in scale that connects the micro to the macro. The spaces within the exhibition represent these contrasts, with some being incredibly densely populated and others being sparse in comparison.
Across the exhibition the works could be described as art, craft or design, or any mix of the three. This mixing of definitions and categories hopefully shakes up any preconceptions and encourages the viewer to look at the work as a total environment, with the overall feel that comes from the setting out of the works providing a composite proposal that combines all the approaches and offers something new.
About the artists
Ben Coode-Adams was born in Essex in 1965. He studied Fine Art at The University of Edinburgh and Art in Architecture at the University of East London. Most of his career he has produced large scale sculptures for housing associations, local authorities and private clients. Ben has always made drawings and paintings alongside his sculptural practice.
Celia Pym was born in 1978 and lives and works in London. She makes darned and embroidered textiles and public textile events. She likes a heavy darn and the feel of really worn down wool, the evidence of use in holes and where they occur, working with other people’s problems and the tenderness that can come with repair. She works surfaces closely like a detective and says about darned holes: “I love the wobbly frayed edges against, confident solid filled in spots of colour.”
Clare Iles was born in Leigh-on-Sea in 1971. She studied a BA Fine art Colchester School of Art and MA Fine art Norwich School of Art and has taught on Fine art Degree and FE courses Degree at Colchester School of Art since 2004. Clare exhibited in EASTinternational in 2002 and has undertaken Arts Council funded research trips to Western India and Jerusalem. She lives and works in Colchester.
Freddie Robins lives and works in Essex and London. She studied at Middlesex Polytechnic (1984-87) and the Royal College of Art (1987-89) where she is now Senior Tutor and Reader in Textiles. As an artist she challenges our perception of knitting as craft. Her work is internationally renowned, her practice crossing the boundaries of art, design and craft.
Paris Essex is Carolyn Clewer and Tiphaine de Lussy. Tiphaine, the Cockney Parisienne met Carolyn, the Essex girl, at the Royal College of Art back in the ‘80s and since then they have joyfully collaborated on knit and fashion projects. Each Crazy Blanket is the result of a kind of Paris Essex parlour game, playing with chance, instinct, knit and crochet.
Sharon Leahy-Clark graduated from the Royal College of Art MA Fine Art, Painting in 2001 and from Middlesex University in 1999 with a BA Hons (1st Class) Fine Art. She also has a BSC Hons in Sociology from Middlesex University. She has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally (including in Japan, Hong Kong, Berlin) and has been the recipient of several awards including the Helen Chadwick Memorial Prize. Sharon has a solo show ‘Not Afraid of the Dark’ opening on 6th April 2017 at Paper Gallery Manchester.
Stafford Schmool (Andrew Stafford) teaches design at the Royal College of Art. He designs industrial products ranging from door wedges to beds, as well as galleries and interiors.
Will Cruickshank studied Sculpture at Manchester Metropolitain University. He has been involved in many exhibitions, projects and commission nationally and internationally.