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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Stephen Snoddy – Conversations

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

Stephen Snoddy and Lesson 1

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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

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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.

 

Rabley Summer Exhibition 2016

SW01 Susie WhimsterRABLEY EXHIBITIONS

Rabley Drawing Centre
Mildenhall
Marlborough
SN8 2LW

www.rableydrawingcentre.com
events@rableydrawingcentre.com
01672 511999

Thurs 30 – Sunday 3 July
11 – 4pm

 

EVENTS

Private View

Wednesday 29 June 6 – 8pm

 

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EXPERIMENTAL DRAWING SUMMER SCHOOL – Course review

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The Experimental Drawing Summer School was an intensive 4-day course encouraging the exploration of drawing through new ‘ways of seeing’.

Over a week of experimenting both out and about and back at the studio, the group produced exciting multi-sensory drawings of varying scales that challenged the perceptions of object, place and space.

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Nik Pollard – Drawn to Nature Course Review 2015

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Another year has passed and the month of June at Rabley wouldn’t be the same without Nik Pollard’s ‘Drawn to Nature’ course. Eight lucky students were able to immerse themselves for 3 days in the surrounding landscape of wild flower meadows and woodland.

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‘Drawn to Landscape’ with Emma Stibbon RA – Course Review 2015

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Landscape drawing and monotype course 

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We have had a busy few weeks at Rabley with the course season well under way and Eileen Cooper’s ‘Garden’ exhibition has just opened in our new modified gallery space!

Emma Stibbon ran her ever popular and oversubscribed ‘Drawn to Landscape’ course at Rabley the weekend before last. The weather was a bit blowy and there was the occasional shower but this didn’t dampen everyone’s spirits!

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