All Over the Place
Held in the same space as the Alan Davie exhibition I had previously seen at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, ‘All Over the Place’, which focuses on geography, drawing, and a sense of place, was a stark contrast. Its overall ambience was one of delicacy and monochromatic understatement; an exhibition which requires careful observation and thought, not a full, blowsy riot of colour and shape.
Each artist had employed their understanding of ‘place’ – whether physical, psychologically or philosophical – in interestingly different ways, ranging from computer-aided work to more traditional chalk and charcoal. David Walker-Barker’s work, with mixed media layers over twists of decaying metal and drawn areas, made a pertinent analogy between the erosive power of the environment and the fragility of retaining a collection of creative ideas. Similarly, Doris Rohr manipulated collage, layered paper, feathers and Cy Twombly-esque scribbles to present subtle, projected landscapes, their physical and psychic ‘realness’ gently overlapping.
Other artists used a web of repetitive strokes and half-recognised forms to create densely patterned works, such as Andrea Thoma’s fields of charcoal, and in the pieces by John Plownan. His work, seemingly depicting stacks of paper (entitled ‘Reams No. 1’), also was a pure drawing exercise in how the brush stroke works against the paper, creating illusory fluctuations between narrative and surface.
Anne Marie Creamer provided one of the only colour works in the exhibition, ink and acrylic drawings on paper that were also stills from an animation that “proposes a quasi-surrealistic journey into a hidden space within a Fabergé egg, which has also been placed within a baroque cinema palace.” The lack of the animation left the works without a reference; they unfortunately seemed almost lost amongst the other, dark-toned works.
Two artists in the show had also formally introduced technology into their work. Mick McGraw, through digital manipulation, pencil drawing and collage, created 3D elevations of non-existent objects, using the virtual to help the viewer see the virtual. Catherine Baker, whose large drawings looked at first like patterns of black moss circles scattered across the page, had used technological means to record eye movements of a human looking at an object. This data had then been used to “create drawings that bypass the hand”. An interesting idea, taking into account the desire of everyone when drawing to get what is in here, our minds, out there, into the world – and continually struggling with the mediator, our body and eloquence.
This exhibition provided some incredibly thoughtful work that had clearly thoroughly engaged not only with the concept of place, but also that of drawing itself. The notion of ‘geography’ and translative functions of drawing and place are ambitious ideas to present, and a seminar, discussion group or forum to discuss these ideas would be an excellent addition to this otherwise solid show.
All Over the Place: Drawing Place, Drawing Space at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery (Parkinson Building, University of Leeds) until October 23rd 2010