According to the leaflet, Palimpsest is “the re-use of manuscripts where original texts have been erase or concealed by subsequent layers which in turn preserve traces of what lies beneath.” This re-use was largely an economic one, which is significant in the current climate of austerity.
The problem sometimes with ‘themed’ exhibition, where a group of artists respond to a title is that often some of them think ‘What have I got that I can make fit?’ Recently I mentioned a sculpture than was a response to the theme of Androids and also a response to the title If Not Here Where?
Palimpsest: apparent beneath the surface, the new exhibition at neo:gallery22 in Bolton, on the other hand, has clearly been planned for some time (there is a video work about an archaeological dig in the winter snow in one of the local parks) and it is obvious that the artists, Crook Street Collective, have produced work in response to the theme. The result is, in my opinion, the best exhibition that neo:artists have had for some time.
Each of the eight artists has interpreted the ideas of surface and change in different ways. For Marc Heaton, for example, the surface which changed was the skin of a human face, with paintings of an ‘older’ version on a ‘younger’ one.
Renounced – Marc Heaton
Gerard Young had a more literal interpretation by painting pictures of charity shop items on the back of pictures bought in the same shops.
Fruit and Butterfly (Bury Hospice) – Gerald Young
The works were fastened to the wall with hinges so the ‘original’ side could also be viewed.
Gerald also has a set of six large Monopoly pieces. I didn’t understand how they fitted into the theme until it was pointed out to me that the ship was sinking, the dog had a flea collar, the top hat was battered and torn …
and the car was on bricks.
I’ve mentioned the work of Alison Timmins before when she graduated earlier this year. (I suspect I may be mentioning it again when the neo:graduates exhibition rolls into town!) Like Gerard, Alison also painted on a mass produced flower canvas. Her work also questioned ‘high art’, her painting being based on William Hogarth’s ‘Heads of Six of Hogarth’s Servants’, with the ‘low art’ of the original mass produced piece.
“- a democratic masterpiece” – Alison Timmins
As with the reused manuscripts, traces of the original flower painting are still visible.
Marguerite Heywood’s paintings are rubbish! I’ve always wanted to say that. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that they are of rubbish – and of other ‘ugly’ subjects. As Marguerite herself explained “I specifically seek out the details of industrial estates where the random colours, forms and bright or weathered surfaces present exciting (almost abstract) images. These small extracts are the stuff of our urban lives which deserve celebration.”
Marguerite discusses Black Plastic with the Usual Suspects
Possibly my favourite pieces in the show were Marguerite’s four paintings of skips and containers:
Pale Container – Marguerite Heywood
Like Marguerite, I too like to see the abstract in seemingly everyday banal subjects. Just this afternoon, while waiting for a bus, I started taking photographs of the crystalline pattern of the zinc surface of a galvanised lamp post.
I’ve mentioned the work of four of the eight artists. I tell you about the other four, plus what was outside the gallery, in the next post. You’ll just have to wait, Rosie!