Collective is delighted to present Ours, an exhibition curated by Grace Johnston as part of Satellites Programme 2017.
Ours takes the study of a historical drawing by Beatrice Whistler as its foundation. Although absent from the exhibition, the sketch emerges discretely through multiple female voices, as a hybrid and flickering form that is open to interpretation.
The drawing is held in The Hunterian collection and is not permitted to be lent due to the terms of its gifting in 1935. This absence has become central to the research process, generating associations by tracing the edges of this object. Outlining a birdcage from three perspectives and drawn on both sides of a small sheet of paper, the image was almost certainly made for the purposes of an instruction. Beginning with this unstable and dual nature, Grace’s research explores the drawing as a transitory site and questions to what extent close observation can be undertaken at a distance.
Ours includes a painting by Carol Rhodes entitled Forest, photopolymer prints made from archival photographs of Beatrice’s garden, and a newly commissioned essay-poem by Sophie Collins. The works oscillate around the complexity of the drawing and are housed within an installation that layers different temporalities, mediums and positions – a space of shared authorship and plurality of experience.
Carol’s small-scale paintings often depict aerial views of fictive landscapes, composed from eclectic photographic sources and preparatory drawings. The painting Forest is anomalous in Carol’s work due to its dense and continuous ground of colour. It is placed in dialogue with photopolymer reproductions of archival photographs currently held in the Special Collections at the University of Glasgow Library. Depicting Beatrice’s garden in Paris, the images create three views of a sheltered, circular lawn. The maker and date of their creation is unknown, bringing into question the nature of origins and acts of reframing.
Grace has commissioned Sophie Collins to write a text in response to conversations about the duality of the drawing. The text focuses on Pauline Réage’s 1954 novel Histoire d’O (Story of O), which follows the title character as she submits herself to the sexual predilections of a secret society. Through a performative reading of the novel in successive, unnumbered points, the piece will constitute an aberrant, spacious text that addresses the notions – including pronouns, possession and the very act of naming – suggested by the exhibition’s title Ours.
Grace Johnston lives and works in Glasgow. She graduated from the MLitt Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art) at The Glasgow School of Art and the University of Glasgow in 2015, where she previously studied Sculpture and Environmental Art. Grace was a participant in Curatorial Studio in 2016. Her recent projects include William’s Palm, Glasgow, 2015, and Earth Wire, a book made in collaboration with the artist Jamie Kane. Ours has been developed by Grace as Associate Producer for Satellites Programme 2017.
Sophie Collins is a poet and co-editor of tender, a quarterly journal of work by female-identified writers and artists. Sophie recently edited Currently & Emotion, an anthology of contemporary poetry translations published by Test Centre. She is Artist in Residence at Glasgow Women’s Library, where she is researching a text on self-expression, self-help and shame to be published by Book Works in 2017. Her first collection of poetry will be published by Penguin in 2017.
Carol Rhodes lives and works in Glasgow, where she studied at The Glasgow School of Art from 1977 – 82. Solo exhibitions include: Oxford House, Glasgow, 2016; OHIO, Glasgow, 2013; Mummery + Schnelle, London, 2009 and 2013; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, 2007; and Brent Sikkema Gallery, New York, 2002. Carol’s paintings are in major collections including the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Tate and Yale Center for British Art. She runs the occasional exhibition space 42 Carlton Place in Glasgow with the artist Merlin James.