Possibilities and Boundaries – A Review of Nicholas Lees, ‘Penumbra’ and Jeff Powell, ‘Edge’ by Wendy Rhodes

EXHIBITION REVIEW by Wendy Rhodes

Rabley Contemporary is hosting a serene and tranquil show of drawing and ceramics by Nicholas Lees and Jeff Powell. The first few minutes spent with the finely crafted works provides the visitor with impressions of shifting light and ephemeral glimpses of forms, redolent of fleeting recollections. Take a little more time and each piece reveals itself as a complex engagement with materials exploiting the possibilities and boundaries of the hand-made. Lees has produced a series of porcelain vessels which defy concepts of solidity and outward form. The edges of his pieces are both precisely carved and uncertain, and the visitor’s perception of form is dependent on their viewpoint. Powell presents a large series of works which only reveal themselves as drawings on closer inspection. His use of layered pastel and crayon, paradoxically applied with meticulous attention to geometry also defies their material identity. Common to both artists is the exploration of the possibilities of materials; pushing the boundaries of clay and pastel. Whilst exerting control over inconsistencies inherent in their chosen technique, both Lees and Powell also celebrate unpredictable nuances. For Powell it can be the fragmentary nature pastel and for Lees this may be fluctuations of shape due to kiln temperatures.

Nicholas Lees, Lightbox and Vessels 18.01, 2018, 8 Parian Porcelain Vessels in Lightbox

Lees creates un-glazed porcelain vessels which delight in creating optical effects. The surface of each form is made indistinct, constructed of an apparent stack of disks hovering closely one above the other somehow joined in a central column. His pieces are, in fact, formed from one piece of clay – to achieve this Lees employs a process of throwing a very thick walled pot which he turns on a lathe once the clay has partially dried; spinning and carving the form. As the viewer moves around the exhibition Lees’ sculptures introduce a playful exchange between light and solidity; one of the most intriguing aspects is that his ceramic objects cast shadows with soft edges. Lees himself is excited and intrigued by the mutability of his forms and viewing his sculpture requires a playful interaction with the light in the gallery. By watching the movement of light on the forms, or by standing in the way of the light, new structures within the existing shape emerge.

Jeff Powell ‘Treen’, 2018 Pastel on paper 42.5 x 50.8 cm

Jeff Powell Cot Edge, 2017 Pastel on paper 35.2 x 42.8 cm

Jeff Powell’s drawings are exquisitely composed arrangements of texture, form and the space they inhabit on the picture plane. Geometrically perfect forms with the crispest of edges cohabit with textural surfaces and loose drawing. The use of soft pastels brings humanity to the work; occasionally an edge softens ever so slightly, breathing life into the space. Powell explains this combination of mark making as an attempt to balance chaos and simplicity – order and dissonance. His pieces are made from many layers of drawing inspired by sketches of places along the tin coast of Penwith, Cornwall. His intriguing array of linear marks created by crayons, stencils and tracing creates solidity, fragility and nuance, exploring line as texture and as edge – dividing and containing. Picture spaces which could have become flat are activated by introducing lines alive with the speed of sketching, and smaller insertions of constrained disorder hint at life’s energy. His drawings include interpretations of rocks, abstractions of strata and carefully observed suggestions of place. Finished works, however, are no longer place bound; each drawing exists as a carefully choreographed balance of visual elements, an abstraction from specifics, seeking perfect harmony.

At first glance these two artists provide a suitable complement to each other through similarities of form and earthy colour palettes, but the link runs much deeper and is founded upon material processes, an iteration of concept which produces endless variations. In Lees’ vessels the repeated technique of sliced edges is realised through ovoid forms, columns and classical vases are suggested in taller pieces. Each shape brings a new conundrum, asking the viewer to decide whether they see internal or external form. Or perhaps it is the ephemeral shadow which hovers half way between these two assertions that provides the truth of his work. The drawings which Lees presents provide clues to starting points in the organisation of repeated shape disturbed by fluid interruptions. The solid mark diffused by elemental interaction. Powell similarly exploits forms in repetition, borrowing from one picture plane to another and trying them for size within each composition. This is a privilege of this exhibition. We, the viewer enter into the creative process; sharing in the decisions of the artist, testing shape and form, elemental colour and scale. The more familiar we become with these works the more we begin to decide preferences for which compositional arrangement is the most successful, evocative or reminiscent of our own associations with place, time and light. A special quality of this show, despite the outward pretence of precise execution is the small imperfections which mark all the works as hand-made. By looking very closely the visitor will observe that both have embarked upon a search for an elusive balance – precision brought to life by small imperfections; permitting a little chaos in their control. Such delicate disturbances in regularity breathe life into this exhibition and bring the viewer in to meet the maker.

EXHIBITION

Nicholas Lees RCA
Penumbra Exhibition at RABLEY GALLERY
19 May – 22 June 2018

RABLEY GALLERY
Jeff Powell ‘Edge’
19 May – 22 June
Nicholas Lees ‘Penumbra’
Open Thurs, Fri, Sat 10-4 and by appointment

More information http://www.rableydrawingcentre.com/rabley-drawing-gallery-exhibitions.htm

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Fiona Robinson was Drawing Debussy on Radio 4’s Soul Music

Fiona Robinson RWA, ‘L’Après-midi d’un Faune’ 2016, Graphite, charcoal and mixed media, 56 x 76cm

Fiona Robinson is an artist, writer and curator who has collaborated with Rabley Drawing Centre for many years. It was such a treat to listen to her on Radio 4 yesterday (Wednesday 18th April) talking about her work in relation to the composer Claude Debussy.

Fiona joined a poet, composer, biographer and a mother to talk about the profound impact that Debussy’s L’Après midi d’un Faune has had on them.

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Sketch 2017 Exhibition Tours to Plymouth College of Art

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The Sketch 2017 touring exhibition has now opened at Plymouth College of Art in the Drawing Studios and will run until Friday 6th October.

EXHIBITION:
September 9 – October 6

Opening Times:
Mon – Fri 9am – 6pm
Sat 11am – 2pm
23-24 September 11am – 5pm

PRIVATE VIEW ON THURSDAY 28 SEPTEMBER, 5-7pm

LOCATION:
The Drawing Studios
Plymouth College of Art
Tavistock Place
Plymouth, PL4 8AT
Devon, England — Map
+44 (0)1752 203434
enquiries@pca.ac.uk

Chitra Parvathy Merchant wins Plymouth College of Art Student Prize

We are delighted to announce the winner of the Plymouth College of Art Student Prize as Chitra Parvathy Merchant.

Chitra Parvathy Merchant, sketchbook page

Chitra Parvathy Merchant, sketchbook pages

Chitra Merchant grew up in India and currently works as a Printmaker in Bristol, U.K since 2000. Much of Chitra’s work is strongly informed by her Indian upbringing. This is reflected in her drawings and prints that examine the roles and expectations that are ascribed to women in India and elsewhere. Her landscapes use ancient Indian historical sites as a starting point from which to develop imaginal structures that take on a life and logic of their own. Her love of drawing and colour always form the starting point of any work.

For her, keeping sketchbooks is vital to her practice. They are a way of recording ideas and thoughts in a safe and intimate format. But most of all, they remain for her, a way of keeping alert and alive to creative possibilities.

more of Chitra’s sketchbook pages…

SKETCH 2017 TOUR Black Swan Arts 22 July – 3 Sept

SKETCH 2017 on Tour

22 JULY – 3 SEPTEMBER 2017

BLACK SWAN ARTS 2 Bridge Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BB

SKETCH 2017 – Sketchbook Drawing Prize includes 100 sketchbooks by 77 artists. It is selected from an international submission of over 500 Sketchbooks. This is the fourth SKETCH exhibition since 2005 and this year it will be touring UK venues.

Preview Friday 21 July 6- 8pm

OPENING TIMES – Black Swan Arts   Mon- Sat: 10.00am- 4.00pm

EXHIBITION CATALOGUE

SKETCH 2017 EXHIBITION CATALOGUE

The SKETCH 2017 Catalogue is now available to purchase online through the RABLEY BOOK SHOP. Each of the 77 artists in the exhibition is represented in this fully illustrated catalogue with an image from a selected sketchbook. Introduction by Meryl Ainslie, Director of Rabley Drawing Centre.

http://www.rableydrawingcentre.com/rabley-publications.html

SKETCH 2017 – CATALOGUE Open Sketchbook Drawing Prize. Catalogue of the artists sketchbooks selected for the SKETCH 2017 Open Sketchbook Drawing Prize.102 Pages, laminated soft cover, fully illustrated. 17 x 17cm. Introduction text by Meryl Ainslie, Director of Rabley Drawing Centre

This book is currently only available to purchase online via http://www.blurb.com by following the buy now link below. PDF versions also available.

VIEW AND PURCHASE LINK 

Publication Price £27 / PDF version £2.99 (plus VAT and P&P)

First edition published 20th May 2017 by Rabley Drawing Centre, Rabley Barn, Mildenhall, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 2LW, Email: info@rableydrawingcentre.com. Telephone: +44 (0)1672 511999 Website: http://www.rableydrawingcentre.com. ISBN 978 0 9926817 1 5

Printed in the UK by Blurb (www.blurb.co.uk)

REVIEW

 

..”the selections for Sketch 2017 continue to challenge what the concept of a sketchbook is and for. One searches for intimacy and authenticity, questioning the role that notebooks play in an artist’s practice. Anne Desmet’s people and places evidence a sketchbook as a constant companion..” Fiona Robinson, Evolver Magazine July/August 2017

Read Fiona Robinson’s full review of Sketch 2017 in Evolver Magazine http://www.evolver.org.uk

TOUR VENUES AND DATES

22 July – 3 September 2017

Black Swan Arts, Frome

2 Bridge Street

Frome, BA11 1BB

9 September – 6 October 2017

Plymouth College of Art

Tavistock Place

Plymouth PL4 8AT

20 November – 15 December 2017

Peter Scott Gallery

Lancaster Arts

Great Hall Complex

Lancaster University LA1 4YW

with thanks to our collaborators and sponsors

SOCIAL MEDIA

Follow Rabley Drawing Centre
 Instagram @rableydrawingcentre

Twitter @EventsRabley

 

SKETCH 2017 – Invitation to Wiltshire Teachers and Teaching Assistants

http://www.rableydrawingcentre.com

SKETCH 2017
Special evening exhibition viewing and sketchbook workshop
Tuesday 6 June 5-7pm
Or Tuesday 13 June 5-7pm
with Meryl Ainslie, Director of Rabley Drawing Centre

This is an open invitation to teachers and teaching assistants to join us for an inspirational evening of Sketchbooks and a free multisensory sketchbook workshop suitable for all levels and abilities.

SKETCH 2017 is a sketchbook exhibition of 100 artists sketchbooks selected from 500 international artists. This exhibition will truly inspire you to draw both in and out of the classroom!

There will be an education pack sponsored by Derwent pencils available to take away including worksheets, sketching ideas for all levels, a digital copy of the exhibition catalogue and more.

Please share this with your teacher friends on facebook.

If you would like to join us please contact Meryl Ainslie in the gallery on 01672 511999 or email events@rableydrawingcentre.com Please include your name, school and personal contact telephone number as places are limited.

Pile of sketchbooks_ webDEFINTIVE DERWENT LOGO

sketch-2017-rabley-exhibition-poster-web

SKETCH 2017 – April News Update

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Sketch 2017 has now been selected from an international submission of over 500 Sketchbooks. We are delighted to announce the shortlisted prize-winners representing the 100 Sketchbooks to be exhibited in SKETCH2017. The prize-winners will be announced on Saturday 20 May.

We would like to thank our panel of Judges – Tom Hammick, painter and printer; Peter Randell-Page RA, sculptor; GIll Saunders, Senior Curator (Prints), Word & Image Dept, V&A Museum; our generous sponsors and all the artists who submitted this year.

image: Anne Desmet RA, sketchbook, 2017 SKETCH selection

PRIZES

  • Derwent SKETCH Prize £500
  • Derwent SKETCH Prize £250
  • Rabley Print Editioning Prize
  • Black Swan Arts Solo Exhibition Prize
  • Lancaster Arts Commission Prize
  • Plymouth College of Art Sketch Student Prize

TOURING VENUES

21 May – 17 June 2017
Rabley Drawing Centre
Rabley Barn
Marlborough, SN8 2LW

22 July – 3 September 2017
Black Swan Arts
2 Bridge Street
Frome, BA11 1BB

9 September – 6 October 2017
Plymouth College of Art
Tavistock Place
Plymouth PL4 8AT

20 November – 15 December 2017
Peter Scott Gallery
Lancaster Arts
Great Hall Complex
Lancaster University LA1 4YW

 

 

 

Here is a taster of some of the fantastic sketchbooks selected for this year’s show:

SKETCH 2017 on our website: www.rableydrawingcentre.com

Supported by: