Keith Roberts. Tallyman

28 Feb 2018 – 8 Apr 2018

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No 20 Arts

England, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Angel, Highbury & Islington
  • Essex Road
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TALLYMAN. A solo exhibition of paintings, drawings and sculpture. In this exhibition Keith Roberts encourages a contemplation of silenced voices and mute witness.


Many of the works in the exhibition are informed by the geography, both political and physical, of the Middle East often described as The Crucible of History. A crucible millennia old that continues to boil and spit. As fearful populations seeking any kind of safety are pushed from one horizon to another this exhibition re ects on the upheaval and chaos that is caused and to tally the absences and silence that ensues.

At the centre of the exhibition is the Tallyman Machine. Part abacus, part musical instrument this wooden structure is strung with bells that are used as counters to tally the movement of peoples around the world in this troubled age. The bells super cially the same but actually unique are a metaphor for the voices of people. Pierced through by the rods upon which they are strung they have become silenced, mute witness to the mechanics of calculation.

The rst work encountered in the exhibition is a oor piece called Caporetto (2017). A series of large bells each unique and made of plaster but painted to resemble lead, are laid upon their sides along the length of a low wooden platform. The bells represent the voices of those killed in con ict, voices that once rang out but are now stilled, have fallen silent.

From the ceiling hangs the Calmington Road Airship (2017). A work developed from research into the last Zeppelin raid on London in 1917. Made from paper and string it is at once both elegant and absurd. The construction works with the idea of harm being carried by technology however simple from over the horizon, from another place, to which it returns.

On the walls of the exhibition space are paintings and constructions. The paintings are landscapes made in the most direct of ways. A surface on the face of a sheet of paper split with a line into upper and lower sections. The rigidity of the rectangular format and horizon line is challenged by the painted surface that runs and spills across the page giving the impression of a surface of lead or torrents of water playing with chaos and accident.

The wall based constructions use the simple materials of board and wood, paint and paper. Here are crudely framed invocations of past and present where the lines between time and geography blur to insigni cance. Paper cut outs of papyrus plants and maize weave across the surface. Place names and clay horizons peep through or are obscured. 

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Keith Roberts

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