Harriet Aston

September 14th, 2014


The Searchers exhibition: September 12 – 24, 2014
‘Shooting from the Hip’

Harriet Aston, Stephen Buckeridge, Dave Morgan Davies, Tony Eastman, Michael Hayter, Stuart Low, Jitka Palmer, Ruth Piper

8 Artists: spotlighting an artist a week for 8 weeks leading up to the show.

 

Week 8: Harriet Aston
A strong sense of ‘otherness’ pervades when looking at Harriet’s sculptures. They have an insistent presence and a solid appearance that belies their fragile ephemeral nature. Made from salvaged brown wrapping paper, the waxy surface is dyed to mottled ‘skin like’ appearance, stiffened with tissue paper glued to the surface, then manipulated and stitched together. Free standing shapes prompt references to the human body, standing stones, rabbits, elephants ears or giant butterflies.

The ones made to hang on the wall encourage more abstract thoughts but images of fish tails lurk.

The most striking essence of all the works is their isolation. Although they share their materials and construction methods no two pieces are the same and even when close together they are silently and calmly disconnected.


Iteration through Intuition – Lizzie Lloyd

September 5th, 2014


The Searchers
‘Shooting from the Hip’ 12 – 24 Septemer 2014
As part of the show we are very please to have been able to commission this essay to accompany the exhibition from Bristol based art historian and writer Lizzie Lloyd.

Iteration through Intuition
Shooting from the hip is all about the quickdraw, about setting in motion.
It is a sharp intuitive reaction. An act played out in the moment, this moment.

A lone, whistling trill rings out in anticipation.

Shooting from the hip is nothing if not decisive but then acting upon emotional responses, we’re forever told, is a risky business, it leaves us exposed. So, when we make art or write about art do we stand back? Do we consider, appraise, weigh up or (the heart sinks) formulate a plan? Should we know what we want to make before we make it? Can we really know what we want to say before we say it? If we can is it really worth saying? Or rather, do we not feel what we feel as we feel it? And, like shooting from the hip, do what we do as we do it, like actions ‘constantly checked and constantly renewed’? Vernon Lee or Violet Paget said this about empathy in 1913.[i] We’ll come back to her in a moment.

So in writing about art, what if, instead of positioning ourselves authoritatively, stand-offishly, at a remove from the art we’re thinking about, we come closer to it by empathising with it, slipping into association with it? The act of intuitively and indirectly reflecting its form and content is a way of being with it, getting to know it, courting it. Surely if our response is just intuitive it would become too inward looking, too subjective for anyone to care? But intuition is just a short step away from empathy.

In fact, it’s interesting to note that empathy in German is Einfühlung meaning ‘in feeling’ or ‘feeling into’. Both empathising and acting intuitively are instinctive, both, to some extent, internalise and represent the ‘merging the perceptive activities of the subject in the object of perception’ as Vernon Lee put it.[ii] Thus, when describing a scene we might happily remark that, ‘the mountain rises’ even though the mountain clearly does not rise, it just appears that way to us. Lee is at pains to show that the phrase ‘the mountain rises’ is not just about human perspectives, as if humanity were the centre of the world. It is not all about us as static, impermeable beings. Lee writes:

‘When we are engrossed in looking at the shape [...] of that mountain we cease thinking about ourselves exactly in proportion as we are thinking of the mountains’s shape. What becomes therefore of our raising or lifting or rising? What can become of it (so long as it continues to be there!) except that it coalesces with the shape we are looking at; in short that the rising continuing to be thought, but no longer to be thought of with reference to ourselves (since we aren’t thinking about ourselves), is thought of in reference to what we are thinking about, namely the mountain, or rather the mountain’s shape, which is so to speak, responsible for any thought of rising, since it obliges us to lift, raise or rise ourselves in order to take stock of it.’[iii]

So if we allow empathy and intuition free rein, perhaps this represents our raising ourselves, as vulnerable a position as that might be. Is this ‘shooting from the hip’, impulsively reacting to a mark, a word, an utterance, a colour, a rhythm, a gesture (one’s own or someone else’s that has gone before)? And in reacting, to what extent do we absorb or in Lee’s terms ‘merge’ with the thing to which we are responding (our trigger)?

Of course, impulsiveness and spontaneity have clear precedences in art. Paul Klee said of drawing that, ‘A line comes into being. It goes out for a walk’.[iv] Where the line is continually responding to the marks it makes in the moment. For Susan Sontag her writing — even, most controversially, her non-fiction and criticism — was always ‘fiction’. Writing, she says, is like going ‘on an adventure for the next sentence’.[v] In art of course, shooting from the hip is rarely a direct straightforward point-blank range quickdraw. Rather it is like a series of quickdraws, a series of immersive reactions: one minute it’s slowed down a hundred-fold, the next, it’s compressed, then stretched out or sped up as the roll of thoughts and marks break…

Slowed down quickdraw.

Images, ideas, colours, and words spill over,
floating

free…free-ish…free-form…free-from.

Here they go,
gathering themselves, weaving their way sinuously:
First lost, under a heavy blanket of sea.
Then waywardly writhing.
First clumsily fumbling — as unseeing and un-thinking as the beady eyes of that rabbit,
frozen.
Then tentatively putting forth word after lone word at a time. Enacting, falteringly.
First an aching, desperate, necessary tugging at your ugly innards (the insistent call of expectation resounding).
Then a fulsome release. Relief. It’s not that bad, after all.

I gesture to you across the room.

Across landscapes of layered networks; grids reassembled,
making and unmaking, converging and dispersing.

Across the quiet grandeur, a trio of huts abandoned.
They are ours, yours and mine, our silenced poetic refuge.

Across harrowing figures, facelessly intent on avoiding my gaze.
I’ve seen them before these sorry forms.

Across outlines, soft and angled, that slip-slide their way between two and three dimensions.
Slide-slip.

Across further figures standing defiantly to attention,
though they look set to crumple under the tangible weight of clay on clay.

Across the unbearable lightness, puckered growths,
stained, oversized and balanced precariously.
If I breathe out will you topple? If I prod you will you tear?

Across the sonorous dot-to-dot; the vocal and visual patterns of the-to-the.
Chain reactions set off by the brief ordinariness of The stretching out to vital The.

Across a bundled pedestal, wound tight in a riot of discarded and disregarded tapes and wires. Is this the end?

I gesture to you.

Here is my baton.

Lizzie Lloyd, 2014


 

[i] Vernon Lee, The Beautiful: An Introduction to Psychological Aesthetics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1913) p. 69.

[ii] Lee, p. 57.

[iii] Lee, p. 63.

[iv] Jürg Spiller, The Thinking Eye (New York and London: George Wittenborn and Lund Humphries,1961) p. 105 cited by Robert Kudielka (ed.) Paul Klee: The Nature of Creation (London: Haywood Gallery, 2002), p. 51.

[v] Jair Rattner, ‘Sontag diz que ha uma superpopulacao de escritores’, Folha De S. Paulo 28 May 1988, A-31 cited by Sohnya Sayres, ‘Susan Sontag and the Practice of Modernism’, American Literary History, 1 (1989), 593–611 (p. 610).


 

Lizzie Lloyd is a doctoral researcher at the University of Bristol working on Subjectivity and Writing Art Histories. She is a translator and has worked on books about Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. More recently she co-translated ‘Thought Thinking: Studies in the Philosophy of Giovanni Gentile’ which is forthcoming as a special double issue of the Collingwood and British Idealism Studies and as a free standing book (2015).  She is a freelance art writer, writing commissioned essays to accompany contemporary exhibitions. In 2012 she co-founded (and continues to co-convene) Art Writing Writing Art (http://artwritingwritingart.tumblr.com) an active research cluster based at the University of Bristol which focusses on the overlapping intersections between art writing and art history.
http://lizzielloyd.tumblr.com


Michael Hayter

September 1st, 2014

The Searchers exhibition: September 12 – 24, 2014
‘Shooting from the Hip’

Harriet Aston, Stephen Buckeridge, Dave Morgan Davies, Tony Eastman, Michael Hayter, Stuart Low, Jitka Palmer, Ruth Piper

8 Artists: spotlighting an artist a week for 8 weeks leading up to the show.
Week 6: Michael Hayter
In Michael’s studio amongst the blood and violence, animals and humans appear in uneasy relationships. But if you wait and look for long enough there is a glimpse of something beautiful and quiet.
He is at his best somewhere in between this emotional spectrum when the paint and the image merge, when emotion, subject matter, colour and material seem to be working together in a powerful narrative.
‘Portrait of the young William Blake with earthworm’ is a small painting with a big punch. The bloodied head of a young boy possibly from the 18th Century judging by the haircut, neckerchief and dark coat stares out of the canvas. He has an eye patch or blindfold.
The thick layers of paint and the narrative combine and your eye is caught in a circular movement switching from the paint to the figure and back again.
Ruth Piper – The Searchers founder


Jitka Palmer

August 18th, 2014

The Searchers exhibition: September 12 – 24, 2014
‘Shooting from the Hip’
Harriet Aston, Stephen Buckeridge, Dave Morgan Davies, Tony Eastman, Michael Hayter, Stuart Low, Jitka Palmer, Ruth Piper

8 Artists: spotlighting an artist a week for 8 weeks leading up to the show.

Week 5: Jitka Palmer
‘The group of three heads represent my reflection on how shooters or prophets orpeacemakers are often treated by history and mankind’ JP

Jitka is a story teller. Her work suggests a continuing narrative or commentary, a processing and distilling of conscious and unconscious observations, made visual through her manipulation of clay and stone.
Her latest work has an immediacy and spontainaety, a straight from the hip response.
The 3 new heads are powerful portraits of a train of thought, a passionate rendering in clay. ‘Silenced Preacher’ & ‘Blinded Visionary’ are roughly worked in porcelain, finished with a clear glaze. The clay hangs in folds, patched and scarred in direct contrast to the delicate nature of the material.
‘Misled Dreamer’ is a brutal stoneware puppet like head sickly with bright coloured glazes, an iron stake hammered into the centre of the skull.
http://www.jitkapalmer.co.uk/
Ruth Piper – Founder of The Searchers contemporary


‘Shooting from the Hip’ 4. Stephen Buckeridge

August 11th, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

The Searchers exhibition: September 12 – 24, 2014 ‘Shooting from the Hip’
Harriet Aston, Stephen Buckeridge, Dave Morgan-Davies, Tony Eastman, Michael Hayter, Stuart Low, Jitka Palmer, Ruth Piper

8 Artists: spotlighting an artist a week for 8 weeks leading up to the show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 4. Stephen Buckeridge
In a conversation with Stephen last week on Skype we discussed possible unconscious influences and sources that may be apparent in his most recent paintings. Certain strong changes in the work triggered stories from the past, giving new insights and at the time conjured similar memories of my own.
When I was young my father used to bring paper home from work for me. Stephen’s own father did the same. He was an engineer who worked on the fuel systems of Condorde in the 60s. The paper had a grid – the same paper he used to develop his drawings……

‘The colour of the paper was a either a kind of burnt orange, an emerald green or a metallic blue, it had tiny squares within larger darker coloured squares. He also gave me staedler propelling pencils to work with – I still like the etched line they give. The paper was very susceptible to smudging, which I liked and still do’ SB

Ruth Piper – Founder of The Searchers contemporary

 


‘Shooting from the Hip’ 3. Stuart Low

August 4th, 2014

The Searchers exhibition: September 12 – 24, 2014
‘Shooting from the Hip’

Harriet Aston, Stephen Buckeridge, Dave Morgan Davies, Tony Eastman, Michael Hayter, Stuart Low, Jitka Palmer, Ruth Piper
8 Artists: spotlighting an artist a week for 8 weeks leading up to the show.

Week 3: Stuart Low
I knew Stuart for a while as a successful glass artist and it was a pleasure to discover his paintings. The sometimes difficult philosophical and psychological shift needed to make the transition from glass to a fine art process seems not to pose a problem for Stuart. There is a laid back ‘coolness’ about his small paintings, underpinned by carefully controlled energy and intensity. His confident loose brushwork is sometimes overlaid with a more structured but soft playful grid that has a thoughtful diagrammatic quality.
The stained and painted glass commissions that provide his living subtly inform the painting with an innate sense of design and in the way that colours can appear to be backlit or giving off light. Ruth Piper – Founder of ‘The Searchers Contemporary’
http://www.stuart-low.co.uk/

 

 

 

 


‘Shooting from the Hip’ 2. Dave Morgan-Davies

July 21st, 2014

The Searchers exhibition: September 12 – 24, 2014
‘Shooting from the Hip’

Harriet Aston, Stephen Buckeridge, Dave Morgan Davies, Tony Eastman, Michael Hayter, Stuart Low, Jitka Palmer, Ruth Piper
8 Artists: spotlighting an artist a week for 8 weeks leading up to the show.
Week 2: Dave Morgan-Davies
There is something very slightly supernatural about Dave’s images that makes you want to keep looking, an uneasy stillness and a hint of anxiety that if you look away an event will be missed or changes occur that will go unseen. It’s all about what you can’t see and this sensation remains through repeated viewings. Watching his film ‘The Swimmer’ begins with the sea pounding the perimeter of a created lagoon where the water is relatively calm. This scene continues for a long while until you forget the title and are mesmerised by the waves, then, quite suddenly it seems, a man in trunks walks into the frame, goes for a swim in the lagoon, climbs out and leaves. It’s as if he was never there and it all begins again. Ruth Piper – Founder of The Searchers Contemporary
http://davemd.co.uk/wp

 


‘Shooting From the Hip’ 1.Tony Eastman

July 14th, 2014

The Searchers exhibition: September 12 – 24, 2014
‘Shooting from the Hip’

Harriet Aston, Stephen Buckeridge, Dave Morgan Davies, Tony Eastman, Michael Hayter, Stuart Low, Jitka Palmer, Ruth Piper

8 Artists: spotlighting an artist a week for 8 weeks leading up to the show.

Week 1: Tony Eastman
The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.
Visit to the World’s fair of 2014′ by Isaac Asimov (August 16, 1964.)

 

I was very lucky and inspired to meet Tony a year or two ago during an art trail event, directed to his door by fellow artist and mutual friend Dave Morgan Davies. Tony and his wife Glen also an artist live amongst Tony’s collections, artworks and experiments, including in the garden a beautiful fruit bearing banana palm. My favourite work that day was in the basement. A film of a book. The text on each page had been erased leaving only the word ‘the’. Each page was treated differently with added drawings or collaged items. The sound track, a woman’s mesmerising voice repeating the word ‘the’ as the pages turned.
Tony’s many drawings, sculptures and installations are inspired by Japenese culture. He explores ideas through many different mediums and has worked with architects, engineers and other outstanding artists including theatre workshops with Ansuman Biswas and Miguel Munoz. All who he says have been “invaluable in opening my eyes and keeping me on my toes’.
A commission he is particularly proud of is an unusual building designed in collaboration with architect Wilf Burton. A permanent Bird Observation tower, constructed of wood, in Steart Somerset. http://www.burnham-on-sea.com/stert-island.shtml
His many exhibitions include Daiwa Foundation, London, the New Art Gallery, Walsall, Newlyn Art gallery, The Architecture Centre, Bristol, Nagoya University and Seto Ceramics Gallery, Japan and Cline Fine Art, New Mexico
In 2010 Bristol City Museum included items from his large collection of artifacts in an exhibition celebrating the year of the tiger.
Ruth Piper – Founder of ‘The Searchers Contemporary’


The Searchers out & about

September 20th, 2013

exhibition-magic-8-ball

Popped into Spike Island on Wednesday to the Bloomberg Contemporary show that delivered very little. Predictable, dull & self referential with rather too many worrying references to male genitals. Best thing in show was a small hand painted figurative animation.
A day out in London yesterday. Visited Charlie Dutton Gallery, now showing three painters Dan Coombs, Mike Silva & Neal Tait. All competent with their material but strangely cool and devoid of engagement of any kind. At first a good looking show but on reflection not an exceptional one.
The Fold Gallery current show Magic 8 Ball delivered some enjoyable works. In particular some small assemblages by Dominic Beattie and two large canvases by Oliver Perkins.
Crossed the river to meet a friend for a speedy lunch in Borough Market, took a look inside Southwark Cathedral then back to The National Gallery. Smiled at Michael Landy’s entertaining fragmentation of the saints in ‘Saints Alive’ & got lost coming across some old favourites, Degas, Uccello, Gainsborough. Planned to go to the Ceri Hand opening but hadn’t noticed she has moved from Covent Garden to south of the river. Was too tired to return to Southwark in the rush hour crowds.
Ruth Piper-Sept 20th 2013
Further reading:
http://standardinterview.blogspot.com/2013/08/dominic-beattie.html


Artists Talking – The Autonomous Object

July 10th, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 6th July @ 2pm
Sculptors Peter Hardy & Stephen Towns drove down to Bristol from Hampshire on Saturday to inspire a lively, fascinating and extended conversation over tea & cake. Much appreciated by all who attended.