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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Nana Shiomi – New Prints for The London Original Print Fair

We are delighted to announce the launch of two new Nana Shiomi Woodcut prints at this year’s London Original Print Fair. Nana Shiomi ‘A Room of One’s Own – Still Life’ and ‘A Room of One’s Own – Seasons’

Nana Shiomi ‘A Room of Ones Own – Still Life’ 2018, Woodcut

 

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Sara Lee – New Prints for The London Original Print Fair

We have a new series of stunning Japanese woodcut prints by Sara Lee to launch at this year’s London Original Print Fair, May 3-6 at the Royal Academy. Only a few days to go!

Sara Lee ‘Transition’ 2018
Japanese Woodcut 43 x 55cm
Edition of 25
£650

Sara Lee ‘Looming’ 2018
Japanese Woodcut 43 x 55cm
Edition of 25
£650

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Rabley Newsletter Spring 2018

Dear  Friends,

Rabley has a very exciting Spring and summer planned. To keep you up to date in one email I have included exciting news and key dates below – from the Rabley Gallery’s exclusive launch at the London Original Print Fair of new prints by Emma Stibbon RA, Eileen Cooper RA, Rebecca Salter RA, Nana Shiomi, Sara Lee and more! To Special opportunities to meet the artists, courses and culminating with our Summer Picnic in July!

We look forward to seeing you.
With best wishes for a Happy Easter!

Meryl Ainslie
Rabley Gallery

 

 

Current Exhibition
to 28 April 2018

KATHERINE JONES
‘The Precious Hours’
New prints and works on paper made during the artists’ residency at Rabley Drawing Centre.

FRED GATLEY
‘The Rabley Series’
An exhibition of ceramics made in response to the landscape and environment of Rabley farm.

Opening Times
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10am – 4pm
and weekdays by Appointment.

EXHIBITION INFORMATION

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Event 17 October – Sadie Tierney MA RCA Artist Talk and Print Demonstration

www.rableydrawingcentre.com

EVENT

TUESDAY 17 OCTOBER

5-6.30PM

At Rabley Drawing Centre

Sadie Tierney MA RCA

Artist Talk and Print Demonstration

5pm demonstration in the print-room

5.45 talk in the gallery

Ticket £5

Booking essential

events@rableydrawingcentre.com

Sadie Tierney Printing Into the Gloaming, 2017
.Woodcut, 50 x 75 cos, with hand colour, Edition of 10.

Coinciding with Sadie Tierney’s exhibition in the gallery ‘Of Night and Light and the Half-Light.

Sadie Tierney ‘Starry Mantle Boardwalk’  Triptych, woodcut with hand colour.

Tierney studied Fine Art Printmaking at the Royal College of Art. Her expressive prints and paintings spring from sketches made en plein air and are marked by their celebratory use of colour and line.

More information about Sadie Tierney and the exhibition

Sadie Tierney Talk and Demonstration and Publication

Publication  – Sadie Tierney, Of Night and the Light and the Half Light BOOKSHOP

 

Vision for a New Swindon Museum and Gallery

www.rableydrawingcentre.com

New Swindon Museum and Gallery- Make Architects

The vision to build an iconic museum and art gallery in Swindon’s town centre came to life at Rabley Drawing Centre with an amazing presentation by architect Jason Parker from the award winning and internationally renowned Make Architects.

Ann-Christopher RA, Emma-Stibbon RA, Sadie-Tierney, Jason-Parker, Meryl-Ainslie

The project was showcased in the Rabley Gallery to a packed house, all were enthusiastic to know more and backthebidswindon to make a reality this wonderful opportunity putting the new Swindon Museum and Gallery at the heart the renaissance of the town. Viewing the beauty of the architect’s model of the building was a show-stopper moment!

The New Swindon Museum and Gallery Architect’s Model

There are two monumental spires fanning the span of the building that houses a new gallery for the important C20 art collection, the extensive museum and archaeological collections, contemporary galleries, education and community spaces – taking us towards the sky with a beautiful rooftop garden and sculpture park. This will be a cultural heart for local people and to encourage visitors and new life to Swindon.

Robert Hiscox has launched this amazing project, backing it not only with his passion for the arts but his commitment and support of the project to get if off the ground. He has backed an independent board of trustees to drive the project, but remains its inspiration!

The New Swindon Museum and Gallery – nocturnal view

Dr. Rod Hebden, director of the trust is co-ordinating and putting the Heritage Lottery Fund bid together. The Council is behind the project with major funding, but we need all the friends of Rabley to backthebid too!! The trustees want to hear your comments, revel in your ideas and take you on the journey with them. So if you have not already done so sign up with your support today.

PLEASE SHARE THIS …

Sign up here to back the bid! http://swindonmuseum.org.uk

Read more about Make Architects design proposalhttp://www.makearchitects.com/media/news-and-events/161214-swindon-museum-and-art-gallery/

Follow the New Swindon Museum and Gallery Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/backthebidswindon/

SPECIAL NOTE – EXHIBITION

Sadie Tierney ‘ Starry Mantle Boardwalk. Showing in her solo exhibition ‘Of Night and the Light and the Half Light at Rabley Gallery until 21 October

We are very proud the Rabley Gallery artists and friends for all your support. It was fantastic to have SADIE TIERNEY’S brilliant exhibition ‘Of Night and the Light and the Half Light’ as a backdrop to this event – so don’t forget to come along and visit the show. It is open until 21 October.

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