The nature of things / New Art Centre, Roche Court, Wiltshire, UK
4 February – 15 April 2012
The nature of things is the second in a series of design shows in the Artists’ House curated by Sarah Griffin. In the Artists’ House, the allocation of function in the architecture dictates the layout and content of the exhibition. The monumental and uncanny willow forms by Laura Ellen Bacon dominate the double elevation of the exterior of the house. Her forms identify its scale and architectural character – dramatically organic against the backdrop of modernist rigour.
Hans Stofer takes up residence in the bedroom on the ground floor, where he unpacks his personal life and turns the room into a confessional. The most ephemeral and inconsequential of materials are tenderly remade into jewellery and autobiography, a mix of found objects made meaningful through artistry and intention. This very private space requires the viewer to trespass and scrutinise.
On the first floor, ceramic vessels by Jennifer Lee revel in light and space. Born of meticulous research and experiment, the controlled, poised forms belie their organic hand-built beginnings. The unglazed surfaces speak of a multitude of abstracted references, but it is as function and sculpture in perfect proportion to the human body that they are understood.
Sarah Griffin has described her selection for the exhibition as follows: In her house, Madeleine Bessborough keeps a table for her grandchildren with finds from nature and otherwise. Invariably one will see a bird’s nest, a petrified newt, a dried allium head, curiously shaped flints, a plastic butterfly. The table is found in the Cube, itself a carefully curated space, and the proximity of the specimen table to the art around it is typical of the way one looks at everything at Roche, with heightened awareness flipping between display, art, nature, accident and intent. This way of looking and seeing also informs my selection of artists for the Artists’ House.
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New Art Centre: Sculpture Park and Gallery
Roche Court, East Winterslow
Above: Jennifer Lee, Slate-blue, dark flash, titled shelf rim, 2009, 26 x 14.9 cm; Polished blue, gray bands, titled shelf rim, 2012, 21.7 x 14.2 cm. Photo: Michael Harvey