Mapping Time presents the work of nine contemporary artists, proposing new insights into the show’s eponymous themes through the resulting interrelations.
Seemingly disparate practices are linked via the collective compulsion to map data by means of recording, documentation, repetitive toil and endurance, in order to examine the ephemerality of time and space.
Whether in literal, temporal, conceptual, or abstract form, artists often use the duality of structure and spontaneity to create a visual conversation. In selecting the works for Mapping Time, curators Julian Page and Joanna Bryant seek to offer a stimulating, eclectic and thoughtful approach to the show’s titular premise.
The artists and works:
Victoria Burge uses maps as an interior infrastructure, transforming the patterns found within these geographies (locations of cities, railroad lines, empty highways, hypothetical coordinates) to generate new celestial terrains. Her work often captures fleeting moments of nature: light falling on water, weightless particles of snow hanging in the thickness of cold air, or a collection of stars connected by a network of imaginary constellations. “I am interested in the presence of absence. What it means to visually catalogue the idea of the space between spaces…”
Susan Collis’s deceptive artworks focus on the function and value of labour, time, endurance and repetition to highlight the metamorphic possibilities in everyday items. Her seductive drawings and sculptures of spontaneous-looking gestures or ordinary objects are meticulously crafted, in defiance of their initial appearance. “My guiding principle is to get a balance between something that is very lovely or very ordinary and then the absolute opposite of that.”
Alan Franklin’s drawings and sculptures are a playful exploration of materials and processes, as well as perception. Proceeding from a simple strategy and at times the result of laborious repetition, Franklin manages to move the familiar towards the delightfully unexpected, creating artful, intriguing and often profoundly meditative pieces of work. “I want my work to stray or wander away from what we think we know in order to be surprised, not by something new, but by something which is already there.”
Elizabeth Hayley’s silver gelatin prints on brass seek to trace a record and likeness of the experience of life lived on, in and surrounded by water, making references to the past and impermanence. Tellingly, the pictorial quality of her photographic tableaux correlates with their documentary value: about life on a ship, old vessels, or boat communities; about ways of seeing and ways of doing, yet they also invite us to experience the density and transparency of time.
Alexander Massouras combines academic conceptual and formal concerns within painting, sculpture, drawing and printmaking. For Mapping Time his work Now and Then - an exercise in recording an otherwise elusive moment - is an image of 720 clock faces, each configured to a different minute of the day. The image therefore always tells the correct time; to do so, it recruits the viewer to find the correct face. This demand is reminiscent of what Gombrich termed 'the beholder's share' in perception, describing the knowledge and cognitive function used by the viewer in order to see and interpret images.
Emma McNally’s drawings are a "visualisation of complex systems”, often associated with mappings of geological formations and constellations. They resemble the results of scientific readings yet have been made intuitively. “I mine all sorts of ways of thinking visually about space and time: the spiral paths of particles in bubble chambers, which are infinitely fast and small; images of cellular mitochondria; the Hubble Deep Field images that probe deep time, where all time is held in the surface of the image but can’t be reached. I like looking at images that show fleeting events and images of aerial views of cities at night—all the emergent formations at a macro scale that look like deep-sea organisms in the dark water.”
Julie Mehretu’s large-scale, gestural works are built up through layers overlaid with mark-making using pencil, pen, ink and thick streams of paint. Mehretu’s practice conveys a layering and compression of time, space and place and a collapse of art historical references. Her works present a tornado of visual incident where gridded cities become fluid and flattened, like many layers of urban graffiti. Mehretu has described them as, “story maps of no location”. She sees them as pictures into an imagined, rather than actual reality. Through its cacophony of marks, her work seems to represent the speed of the modern city.
Jayne Wilton’s work has increasingly focused on documenting, mapping and making connections between natural forces and phenomena on both a micro and macro level. She is fascinated by the universality of nature’s patterns and the poignancy of events that unfold through transient and ephemeral processes such as the changing state of materials and the human breath. Her current work with the Wellcome Foundation continues her investigations to embrace the in-breath and the pause between breaths, along with her work documenting the dynamics of the humble spent breath. The work shown in Mapping Time references her early recordings of the out-breath on copper plate
Joella Wheatley calculates, maps, measures and positions highly structured lines and objects that embody an enclosed space, hinting towards human activity and opening doors into the processes, complexities and voids of solitude, through perspective projection. Wheatley’s paintings invite viewers to detach themselves from the notion of normality, question their reason for being and confront isolation.