As the tendrils, fog and fabric of these works poke at and attempt to envelop me I realise that there is not now, and likely never will be a single explanatory vat within which I can deposit them to contain the many untidy ends of meaning currently cluttering up my thoughts. There are plenty of clues available as to what these artists do, how they might relate and why they should be shown together at this time. However, having become immersed in the microcosmic realm they collectively create, the fact that they are all represented by the same gallery seems pretty low on the list of priorities driving the design behind, if not the guts within, this group exhibition.
A letter of startling clarity from one artist to another about the nature of making and the recent flurry of verbal and electronic correspondence I have been party to all lead to a shared personal territory far removed from gallery and art world protocol. Separate dialogues between artists (who have never before shown as a group) continue beyond the periods of overlap during the annual exhibition schedule and all remain informed and curious as to the process of and impact on the group of the director selecting further individuals for representation. A sense of being in exile; an ever-present dissatisfaction with their chosen modes of enquiry and a fascination with historical models of representation; attention to detail and a dogged, old-fashioned commitment to the projects they pursue all infect but do little to actually describe these individuals' very different practices.
At several points during this non-scientific process of visual investigation, a Venn diagram has seemed the most appropriate method of imposing order onto unruly portions of abstract thought. Even this practical, evidence-based approach, though, struggles in my mind's eye to accurately map the amorphous territory of theoretical interpretation. As quickly as threads of meaning emerge they become inextricably bound to the analytical framework that has made such consideration possible. Shared sensibilities and points of reference spin tangible (if temporal) webs between specific works but like fingerprints delicately dusted into life can only exist as long as that upon which they are printed. The path of deconstruction is simultaneously exciting but, at times, solitary with the security blanket embrace of emotional response ever tempting as the clouds of perceptual debate roll in.
The title ' 'Oyster Grit' ' has materialised from the midst of organisation and pre-conceptualisation of the event. Does this describe a moment of perceptual surety interrupted, perhaps, or the point of fracture between the idea and phenomenon of an experience? The visceral quality invoked by these two words together ' the glottal hike that might result from detection of a small, calcified speck within the viscous briny swallow of shellfish ' enables (in the context of looking) a temporary rift between analysis and response; a fissure in the wall of preconception offering a glimpse of something potentially pure. With investment, these works offer such accidental moments. Often prompted by an unexpected presence or combination of elements they provoke responses that feel chipped from the unknown ' a dense cerebral core comprised of personal and inherited moments pressed into granite through the weight of time. Yet the thoughts they inspire are not sharp or flinty but mercurial and hard to grasp, snagging on the clunky workings of the mind like fabric pulled through the teeth of an outmoded machine.