Taken from a conversation between Robert Rauschenberg and Dorothy Seckler in which he said “Its just a kind of friendly relationship with your materials..” Julia Noble’s exhibition reflects Rauschenberg’s description of the way he used the accident or unintentional in his working methods and how he used materials for what they are, not for what you can make out of them. That he used the tendencies that they display.
Noble’s exploration of abstract painting is unique in her use of materials in an unconventional way: using the properties that are inherent in the materials but also seeking to challenge Rauschenberg by experimenting and pushing materials to their limits. The choice of materials and the processes that are used are of substance and ultimately determine the form of the work and their compositional integrity.
Further inspired by Matisse’s use of paper in his later years, Noble also works with paper and makes it perform like canvas: challenging the viewer with a complex system of production which result in kaleidoscopic, rhythmic images involving painting, stitch and reworking, layering process on top of process. Japanese paper, book binding canvas, and dyed canvas are drawn on and then painted into. Stitch is used as a mark making tool using a domestic sewing machine to create curved lines and this stitched line disrupts the surface which is then painted into again. The sections created using these process are then themselves stitched together to form grids, which are then either stretched or mounted on board enabling them to take the guise of a traditional canvas. From a distance the works look as if they have been directly painted on to the canvas, it is only on closer inspection they reveal that they are not.