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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Katherine Jones ‘The Precious Hours’ – Prints and New Works on Paper

The Precious Hours 2017, Collagraph and block print on paper, 92 x 71 cm, Edition of 25

The Precious Hours is an exhibition of new prints and works on paper by Katherine Jones, Rabley’s artist-in-residence 2016-17 and runs from 17 March – 28 April 2018 at Rabley Gallery, Wiltshire.

During her residency Katherine Jones travelled down to Rabley Home Farm from her home in London on a monthly basis. Katherine was able to witness the seasonal changes on the farm as well as more formal changes such as the sale of the dairy herd, which marked a fundamental shift for the farm. She has not attempted to document these changes straightforwardly, rather, the relative space and minimalism of the cultivated landscape in contrast to the squeeze of the urban environment; the differences in scale; the bittersweet nature of farming and our larger changing environment have been the catalyst to the new work.

Katherine Jones sitting drawing at the Rabley Drawing Centre pond.

Katherine Jones at the Rabley Drawing Centre pond.

During this residency, Katherine Jones has shared The Precious Hours to be inspired, be concerned and be knowing of this place. Her new watercolours and prints meander through conundrums, alighting upon symbols and references. Their intent is not aestheticism, but question. The physicality of these fragile pieces of paper is both beautiful and profound.’   Meryl Ainslie 2018

Here is a selection of works on show at ‘The Precious Hours’ for the full catalogue please visit the website: click here

 


Special Event: Artist Gallery and Studio Introduction – Saturday 21st April

Artists Katherine Jones and Fred Galley will discuss their residencies at Rabley Drawing Centre, walking you through the studio and into the gallery to see their exhibitions – Katherine Jones, ‘The Precious Hours’, New prints and works on paper & Fred Gatley, ‘Rabley Series’ Ceramics. This is a free event but places are limited and booking essential. view and book event

 


The Precious Hours

The title ‘The Precious Hours’ is meant to be read in both a domestic and global context. All time is precious and, as the warming of our planet speeds and visibly affects our environment, the passing of time is ever more apparent.

The work in this exhibition is mostly the result of a year’s residency at Rabley Drawing Centre and Rabley Farm. I visited the farm roughly once a month, made drawings, collected objects and made prints that have been developed both in the Rabley Print studio and back in my London studio.

The show brings together a lexicon of motifs to describe the place and the thoughts evoked during the residency – containers, farm buildings, fields, rocks, birds, clouds and the man-made Rabley pond. During the year, depictions of scale and space have given way to a focus on the passing of time – both in a domestic and global sense – and the visible effects of environmental change making the speed of its passing ever more apparent.

The paintings, sketchbooks and mono-prints are part of the formation or gathering of these individual ideas. The editioned prints, however, are the result of a slower percolation – a consolidation of disparate threads into something more concluded.

The large-scale prints bring together drawings of the farm and surrounding area, the windbreaks between large open fields, mixed clusters of deciduous and evergreen trees and structures loosely derived from the farm’s buildings. These include the farmhouse – large and open, and a serene ‘hide’ from which to observe the birdlife, in particular the red kites and swathes of jackdaws.

A dominant theme has been the sky – so much wider in open Wiltshire countryside than in the city. The warmer average temperatures of recent years are thought to be behind an increase in the occurrence of towering white cumulonimbus clouds. Being more reflective than the grey blanket-like stratus, they form a feedback loop that increases rather than slows the warming of the atmosphere.

This sense of an acceleration of cumulative imbalances in our environment prompted a shift towards more tension in the images – bucolic scenes and skyscapes described in jarring contrasts of line and tone in a colour palette dominated by light flesh-tones and pitch black. Dramatic, distorted, drooping or pouring in a flow-form towards the ground, they describe the accumulation and acceleration of a momentous surge. The resulting aesthetic is something resembling melting ice-cream – sweet, ethereal colours dripped into the brown earth.

I am indebted to Meryl and Andrew Ainslie for giving me the opportunity to work at Rabley and for being such generous and accommodating hosts. Being at Rabley has shifted my perspective and been a catalyst to a new body of work, much of which is still in progress.

Katherine Jones
2018

 


 

About the artist

Katherine Jones is a fine art printmaker and painter. She combines traditional forms of intaglio and relief print (etching, collagraph and block-print) to produce her distinctive images. Fragile floras are covered with protective environments – each luminous and held in the surface of print and watercolour. Jones’ images play with the balance of botanical history and the metaphors of a fragile world.

Jones studied printmaking at Cambridge School of Art and Camberwell College of Art. She has been widely exhibited and received numerous awards and residences. Awards – 2014; London Original Print Fair Prize; Printmaking Today Prize; 2015 Artist in residence, Winchester School of Art; Eton College, UK. Public Collections – Victoria and Albert Museum prints and drawings collection, London National Art library, UK; The House of Lords, UK; Yale University Library, USA.

 


‘Katherine Jones – The Precious Hours’ Publication

Rabley Gallery have published a book to accompany the exhibition. We have copies for sale in the gallery for £18 (special price) or you can view and purchase the book online here: Book Preview


The exhibition runs until April 28th 2018

http://www.rableydrawingcentre.com

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 – 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

Stephen Snoddy – Conversations

www.rableydrawingcentre.com

Conversations – Exhibition at Rabley Drawing Centre from 26 September to 29 October

Stephen Snoddy and Lesson 1

Stephen-Snoddy-Rabley-1

Stephen Snoddy chooses prints for the upcoming exhibition at Rabley.

In Conversations, a series of new monotypes, Stephen Snoddy shares Matisse’s lifelong obsession with a visual conversation between inside and outside and often uses the window motif as a formal device to construct work.

Belfast born Snoddy trained as a painter at Belfast College of Art where he graduated with an M.A. in Fine Art. He exhibited at the Royal Ulster Academy last summer; has had a recent solo exhibition, ‘Looking Out’ at the Roberto Polo Gallery, Brussels with a forthcoming exhibition at Southampton City Art Gallery in February, 2017.

Snoddy is also a prominent curator and is currently the Director of The New Art Gallery in Walsall.

Stephen Snoddy Lesson 4, 2016, mixed media, 23 x 28cm

Stephen Snoddy
Lesson 4, 2016, mixed media, 23 x 28cm


More about Stephen Snoddy

Click here to read text from an essay by historian and critic Richard Cork, published in the catalogue for his recent show at the Roberto Polo Gallery, Brussels .  Snoddy by Richard Cork

Richard Cork is a British art historian, editor, critic, broadcaster and exhibition curator. He has been an art critic for the Evening Standard, The Listener, The Times and the New Statesman as well as the editor for Studio International.


The New Art Gallery Walsall

The New Art gallery Walsall

The New Art gallery Walsall

Snoddy has been the director of The New Art Gallery Walsall since 2005. The award winning gallery was designed by Caruso St John and opened in February 2000 in the heart of Walsall town centre.

The gallery acquired the renowned Garman Ryan Collection that was gifted to the Borough in 1973 by Kathleen Garman, widow of the great 20th century sculptor Jacob Epstein. The Collection includes 365 important works by celebrated artists including Jacob Epstein, Van Gogh, Monet, Constable, Turner, Picasso, Degas, Matisse and Lucian Freud, alongside a wide range of artworks from throughout the world.
The New Art Gallery’s exhibition programme focuses on the very best in international contemporary art and their Artists’ Studio and Artist Development programmes support artists from across the region.

New Art Gallery Walsall website:  http://www.thenewartgallerywalsall.org.uk


stephen-snoddy-at-rabley

Conversations runs from 26 September to 29 October at Rabley Contemporary Gallery alongside an exhibition of works on paper from Sally Taylor – That Head, That Head. 

For more information visit our website:

http://www.rableydrawingcentre.com/events/stephen-snoddy-conversations-exhibition.html

If you are interested in the work of Stephen Snoddy, you can get in touch with us to make an appointment to visit the gallery or request an invitation to the private view.

Contact: Meryl Ainslie on 01672 511999 or email info@rableydrawingcentre.com

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Tom Hammick Gallery Talk on 25 June 2016

www.rableydrawingcentre.com

Tom Hammick Gallery Talk at Rabley Drawing Centre

The beautiful Tom Hammick exhibition continues in the gallery until Saturday 25 June.

Tom will be giving a gallery talk at the closing event on Saturday 25 between 3 – 4.30, so please book and join us, places are limited Booking now.

He will discuss his role as artist in residence at the English National Opera and the themes and ideas that have influenced the woodcuts and etchings in his exhibition ‘Passes Between Us’

info@rableydrawingcentre.com Telephone 01672 511999

EXHIBITION

TOM HAMMICK

Passes Between Us
New paintings and prints

23 May – 25 June 2016,

OPEN Thursday & Friday 10 – 5, Saturday 11 – 3, & by appointment.

Tom Hammick’s new atmospheric landscape prints emerge from cut wood. His images are metaphors for the human condition; reflecting states of mind, transience, fragility and awe. He is inspired by the British Romantic tradition and Eastern culture.

s TH113 Tom Hammick Violetta & Alfredo's Retreat

“This image It is in part influenced by a 1950’s Japanese film and in part a picture about love so strong you ignore everything else. There is nothing in the world apart from those two figures. They are in a vortex of passion and love like Tristan und Isolde have for each other. Their passion  detaches them from reality. Hence they are in their boat far off from anything else.”

Hammick has an international reputation for his stunning colourful printmaking. Selected Exhibitions – UK: Brighton Museum and Art Gallery; Rabley Drawing Centre; Flowers Gallery, London; USA: Flowers New York, Yale Centre for British Art; The Library of Congress, Washington DC.; Canada: Christina Parker Gallery; France: Hypnagogic; Galerie Prodromus, Paris. Public Collections – UK: British Museum; Victoria and Albert Museum. France: Bibliotheque Nationale de France Bank.