AboutWATERLINE has brought together eight contemporary artists working in various media from photography and video to sculpture and painting. The exhibition takes its inspiration from the unique geographical location of University Campus Suffolk and the Waterfront Gallery in East Anglia where the sky, sea and shore present a stark landscape of horizontal spaces. But nowhere in Britain is far from the water, which has provided artists with a rich source of subject matter as the current exhibition at Tate Britain highlights, whether it is Turner's 19th-century seascapes or Callum Innes' recent Watercolour series.
WATERLINE is a selected exhibition drawn from a national call for entries. Submissions were invited in all media, which depicted or incorporated some aspect of water. It has been a challenge to myself and the selection panel, David Baldry, Head of Arts at UCS and artist; Desmond Brett, artist and lecturer; Rebecca May Marston, Director of Limoncello Gallery; and Hugh Pilkington, architect, curator and artist, to choose so few proposals from such a wide-ranging response. The resulting selection is not necessarily obvious, but has instead focused on subtle, minimal works in which the viewer can contemplate the ephemeral and ubiquitous substance water.
In much of the work there is an intriguing element of illusionism, not in the traditional sense of using techniques such as perspective to produce an impression of reality, but in the experimentation with found or prepared matter that can metamorphose into something other. In using a limited palette for her oil paintings Amanda Ansell evokes illusory and hypnotic abstract seascapes from simple bath foam creations. A fascination with the photograph as object has resulted in Jessica Mallock's ice and clingfilm transforming into an alluringly deceptive image. Suzanne Franks snatches fragments in the form of water droplets, which are reproduced in small spherical prints to be encapsulated in pin badges, while the water in Erin Newell's sequence of intimate black and white photographs is trapped in bottles and jars, depicting âwaterline' as a journey charting the distance between geographical points. A conjuring through absence is introduced in James Epps' and Ed Broom's playful floor works. Epps' funnels evoke liquid, but instead of water, blue paint, plasticine and vinyl occupy the interiors, denying water's fluidity and transparency. Broom's amusing Lego piece holds a powerful message in the three missing letters. A change of focus emerges in Mark Langley's work with an actual âwaterline' made by placing water on the surface of a row of polished coins, echoing the already existing faint âhorizon line' embedded in each coin. In contrast, Helen Grove-White draws a gentler flowing landscape by choosing to capture light on water in her short video piece.
Each of the artists has imaginatively interpreted the theme to produce an exhibition that continues the dynamic programme since the opening of the Waterfront Gallery in 2009. Here, local audiences and visitors to Ipswich are provided with an opportunity to view innovative and diverse contemporary art. Our thanks to the eight artists and to all who submitted proposals; the selection panel; UCS Arts Curator Carol Gant assisted by Neil Salter; UCS Arts School technicians; and Max Weatherby at Hawksmoor Investment Management for supporting the show. It is my hope that we have produced an interesting and thought-provoking exhibition that celebrates local and national artists in our fitting âwaterline' location on Neptune Quay.
Dr Jane Grisewood