Encompass Collective at St Georges House

Typical! You wait ages for a work of art inspired by Duchamp’s ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’ and then two come along together! I’ve already mentioned Richard Hamilton’s work currently on show at the National Gallery, London. On Thursday evening I went to the opening of the Encompass Collective‘s exhibition “Conception” at the Gallery at St Georges House in Bolton.

“Encompass Collective are a group of artists based in the North of England, working across a wide range disciplines. ‘Encompass’ are committed to opening challenging lines of enquiry in visual culture. As exhibiting Artists, ‘Encompass’ are dedicated to the investigation of alternative platforms and curatorial strategies for the display of contemporary art, building new infrastructures and brokering new partnerships throughout the region and beyond.”

(I’m sorry but something, somewhere is tottering towards a nomination for the Bovine Doo Doo Award!)

Encompass Collective, as far as this show is concerned are Siobhain Moakes, Sharon Forrest, Valerie Halliwell and Tracie Shaylor. Siobhain is chatting on the left of this photograph. Behind her is “Primigravida (after Duchamp)” (available for £500). The colours above are truer than this shot of the painting which is pinkier.

Siobhain said that the title meant first pregnancy – she used to be a midwife – and it is of her daughter-in-law who was very pregnant at the time. I wasn’t sure if the ‘after Duchamp’ referred to ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’ or perhaps another of his works with which I was unfamiliar. Siobhain said it was a reference indeed to the staircase painting.

She also said that she knew her pieces were too big to be commercial but she was an expressive painter who liked painting big.

The information sheets stated that “[Siobhain’s] most recent paintings return to an interest in figurative work, looking at different ways the artist might alter viewer’s perceptions of people in social and everyday situations. Siobhain as used different ways of suggestion altered focus by indication of movement, confusion in colour register and distortion of image, reducing features to blurred out remnants or stylised lines suggestive of shape, form and movement.”

This is another of her works. I’m afraid I didn’t record the name.

The other artist I liked was Sharon Forrest who is “concerned with the exploration of personal, social and cultural memory … [using] works from archive photography, film stills and cultural source material.”

Here are two of her drawings. (She also had some solarplate prints.)

Frontline (Charcoal on Canvas)

Home For Christmas (Pastel on Canvas)

Valerie Halliwell’s “paintings explore women’s sub-conscious programming, fundamental beliefs, thoughts and feelings and question values such as; ‘Is womanliness purely about motherhood, the physical and sexual or does it also encompass the spirit and soul?’ … [Her] paintings seek to embrace all aspects of womanhood and aim to aid the viewer in seeing them on their personal journey into a deeper recognition and understanding of self.”

This triptych is called ‘Climax’. Having seen it, I would like to apologise to all the ladies I have known intimately in my life. I hadn’t realised what you were going through!

Unfortunately, the photographs of the fourth member of the Collective, Tracie Shaylor, were very dark and I was not able to record them. Also I understood neither the photographs themselves nor the written information about her, so I’m afraid I will have to pass over her work.

Emma Kelly, the curator both at the Gallery at St Georges House, in Bolton, and the Gallery at Bank Quay House, in Warrington, is producing some excellent exhibitions. And the nibbles on Opening Night are pretty good too!

About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website johnpindararts.weebly.com
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8 Responses to Encompass Collective at St Georges House

  1. I like the “Home For Christmas”. Powerful drawing.

  2. seascapesaus says:

    The art speaks enough. But I am glad someone has their mind on groundbreaking curatorial links and challenging things we can’t imagine.

  3. Emma Kelly, the curator at St Georges House, has put a set of photographs of the exhibition opening on Facebook. I’ll try and give the link. (Apologies if I don’t succeed.)

  4. Suppose it is better not to be understood rather than misunderstood !!

  5. My subject area is a collaboration of science fact and backbone of science fiction questioning the attitudes of postmodern society. My practice is the science/art hybrid, art and science hybrid being at the forefront of the art scene now, considers possibilities of the headline news of stem cell research in particular genetic engineering and the probably rise of eugenic selection. Science fiction has gripped the attention of audiences world-wide, with some of its achievements furnishing the most successful utopian and dystopian world with narratives about the progress of science and the limits of humanity’s ability to understand its own complexity and place in the world. However there is an eerie immediacy to the sci-fi futuristic scenarios depicted in these works that also encompasses the blurred boundaries of media and reality in today’s society. We already have experience with modern coercion for eugenic purposes. To engage in prenatal testing is coming from the political, legal, and medical communities, for their own reasons. Prenatal testing is eradicating illness in a whole new way preemptively. Recent events in the newspapers make known the available option of designer babies. You cannot only choose the choice of gender but hair and eye colour too. Eugenics does not stop here though; consider the immigration laws known as soft eugenics. Government’s aim is already imposing restrictions and rejecting the weak and ‘the socially useless’ a term used by George Bernard Shaw, supporter of Hitler’s concept of a purified European society.

    Meanwhile, the moral conversation concerning the bioethical reflection is to underline the consideration of what is ethical and acceptable to society once unfamiliar concepts are introduced to a community or culture and questioning what or who establishes these moral principles and the common rule of conduct.

    • I went down to the Gallery again today to have another look at your work following your first comment. My comment in the post about the photographs being ‘too dark’ was purely physical. I agree they are also very dark emotionally. My problem regarding understanding your work was that the first part of the accompanying text discussed modern biogenetics and embryo selection – as you do above. You do later mention eugenics ‘which began in Britain and then taken up by the Americans and the Nazis’. Your piece ‘Carcass Pit’ certainly invokes the Nazis and concentration camps (another British invention!) or possibly modern ethnic cleansing.

      The photographs of gas masks have been given the names of poisonous gases (Tabun, Sarin and Yellow Cross), one of which (Zyclon B) was used in the Nazi gas chambers. Are you asking us to make the leap from Nazi eugenics to modern stem cell research and equate the two? Your text at the Gallery concludes with “Shaylor questions the conceivable impending consequences of today’s embryonic stem cell research.” Sorry, I’m not buying the link between Nazi death camps and modern biology labs.

      • “This is no surprise since Human Dignity is under assault on every front, from the pre-born to the dying—from womb to tomb… Focus on critical areas like fetal tissue research and the fallout of the genetic revolution, as examples, can obscure the reintroduction of old sins like racism—insinuating themselves into new and deadly bioethical disguises”. (Rutecki, 2007, Online.)

  6. Pingback: Neo:Graduates Show | notes to the milkman

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