Reorientated: a Conversation of Different Geographies.
Julie Brixey-Williams & Michelle Loa Kum Cheung
A-side B-side Gallery, 352 Mare St, E8 1HR 21-27th June 2017
Loa Kum Cheung and Brixey-Williams create a disjunctive path that dances between Western upbringing and Eastern composition. Deconstructing the terrains of their own backgrounds, they attempt to understand the relationship between physical and cultural heritage within the context of personal experience. Drawing upon the Chinese notion of Shan Shui, where the purpose is less about realism and more about an expression of the mind and heart, the artists are able to absorb technical qualities of composition, rhythm and flow to cultivate personal landscapes that offer a variety of perspectives upon the idea of belonging. This repositioning unites the artists as they deploy some of the boundaries of Asian landscape art and calligraphy to investigate disconnections between time and location, allowing the pre-existing landscapes to be absorbed into the original meaning of ‘–scape’: a personal and continued material engagement with place.
Brixey-Williams renders visible the relationship between the body and site through performative and sculptural inscriptive acts in the landscape. Evoking calligraphic practice where the ink performs a role within the white space to bring vitality to the page, she opens a dialogue between the gestural quality of her movements (and their semiotic function as a language abstracted beyond the readable) and the intrinsic qualities of the place. Carefully applying spatial compositions and Asian formalities in her photographs, sculptures and ink drawings, she balances the freedom of gestural flow with the delicate colours of the Essex marshlands of her youth that echo traditional Chinese ink wash paintings.
Loa Kum Cheung explores the idea of a displaced heritage, drawing reference from old family photos and open source archive to fabricate nostalgia for a lost lineage. The melding of the actual family memory and idealized projections of places she has never experienced first hand is lightly layered, creating slippage where the new and ideal can co-exist. Favouring the tactility and raw materiality of wood, she employs pyrography and oil with a focus on intentional mark making. The physicality of the techniques used is an attempt to exert ownership over the elusiveness of memory, time and place - inherently flawed, disjointed and the subject of idealistic escapism.
This is an intersection of a duo of trajectories that share both affinity and disconnection. Deconstructing the terrains of their own backgrounds, the artists attempt to understand the relationship between physical and cultural heritage within the context of personal experience.
Julie Brixey-Williams was born in Essex, moved to London in the 1970’s and is a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. Her interest in Asian art was fostered during the two years she worked in Hong Kong in the 80’s, when she visited China shortly after border controls were relaxed. Exhibitions include Arabesque V&A museum, London; Drawing The Process national touring show; What is Line? Frost Museum, Miami and W0budong: texts without meaning, Manchester. Residencies include The Observatory at Lymington, The Barbican library and The Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland.
Loa Kum Cheung
Michelle Loa Kum Cheung was born in Sydney, Australia, and lives and works in London, United Kingdom. Exhibitions include 'Studio Oriental' at Gaffa Gallery, Australia, and Dot to Dot, run by the Mayor of London's Office, in various locations around London.