Everything looked wonderful - house, paintings, people - loads of visitors streamed over the lawn on an implausibly warm autumn evening, the lowering sun sliding into the plummy chandelier-lit Long Room; the paintings, hung on two L-shaped boards devised by my brilliant father, looked beautiful; Amanda Geitner gave a superb speech introducing the work that she and Frances Kearney had selected and, as you will see from the photos, not only did everyone have a good time but paintings were sold - in very creditable numbers!
Thanks to Caroline & Roger Combe for their tolerant aimiability while the show was on, Alec and James Douet for their patience, might and ingenuity, and Haydn, Tudor & Morgan for their skilful wine-pouring.
As an artist who occassionally does a piece of Live Art and has had much to do with the Live Art Development Agency and other Live Art & Performance types, I have vaguely wondered what 'performative' means, how it is different from 'performance' and if I or my work are/is performative. Now I can reveal - THERE IS NO SUCH WORD! So please stop using it!
18 - 20 Colegate, Norwich NR4 1BQ Open 12 - 6pm Tuesday - Sunday Till 21 August
For those who don't know it Colegate is an architecturally cranky old street in Norwich. It's 400 yards of wobbly buildings of red brick and timber, skewed windows and a mix of social and commercial uses - the elite Strangers' Club for Norwich merchants, the Octogon where I believe you can leave your children to be guarded, a carpet shop in a C19th preacher's hall (that might have gone....) and the splendid Queen Anne mansion that used to house the Broads Authority. This lovely and hefty place has massive elaborate plaster ceilings writhing with burlesque ornament and also bogs, kitchenettes and corridors cruelly stripped back for bureaucratic action.
Outpost has taken over the building for a programme of short residencies to coincide with CAN 09 for 21 European & British artists. Presumabably it's all building up and could be a rewarding visit by the end of their tenure. As yet there's little to see - the homely evidence of work in progress (hammerings, wrapped things). The collective CutUp has put a wall of stained wood pierced by various old speakers obliquely across a room next to the entrance and this works well in the space, responding to size and proportion and giving a sense of life to the house. Elsewhere an artist was starting to unwrap and prepare a table for her castings of cat candles; on the stairs are some attractively aged-looking crimson prints of a building that use lipstick as pigment; in an attic shelves had been put up for a performance involving a meal that moved round the house.
I was however too distracted by the building to get much absorbed by the artwork. Why are the ceiling mouldings so assertively wrought, and who can have thought that to paint the flat bits compost green was somehow in period? How did the City Council (I presume) seperate the lobe of its brain that deals with historic preservation from the lobe that deals with partitioning areas for the making of tea, and get the idea that there is no alternative to formica?
I would like to see in the rest of the residencies more work like the speakers wall that confronts the archtecture and history of the building, and not work that acts like the council and ignores the beautiful elephant that is 18 - 20 Colegate.
Colin Wilkin - Recent Paintings St Jude's Gallery, Itteringham, Norfolk Nr11 7AF 18 July - 1 August 2009-07-19 Open Thursday - Saturday 10 - 4pm
Aaaand another review with a vested interest to declare; until their recent move from next door to my house to remote(ish) Itteringham in North Norfolk, I had come to depend on St Judes for all my birthday present needs. Their Modern British aesthetic has a coherent visual logic - the plates have decorative tones that recall the fabrics, which go with the notebooks, which allude to the mugs. They didn't consult me before they left and I want them back.
The new gallery looks like something out of one of the Ravillious prints they stock - in an archetypical English village cupped in a woody valley with wobbly brick houses, friendly pub, diminutive yet perfect manor house.
Colin Wilkin comes from perfect English landscape too, walking and cycling round the Suffolk/Essex borders where he lives and works. He paints on a white ground, using watercolour with no body colour so the paintings are palest blues, greens, pinks and greys. I thought at first they were prints, because that's what I associate with the gallery, and also because the line drawing is so fine - his father was an engineer and there is a diagrammatic quality to the draftsmanship.
They are also map-like and exquisitely precise, even though he draws in the rough and wild open air. Sometimes the chemistry of the atmosphere dampens the paper and gives the colour greater strength. The colours are not naturalistic, it is almost as though they stand for real-life colours in a shaggier, rougher world.This precision is intriguing because he describes the process of making in a sort of existentialist way; he draws not only what he sees but peripheral and sensual stuff - the path his feet took, the sound of the shingle, raindrops from a vertical dimension.
After the first draft he puts them out of sight until they become unfamiliar, then revisits them over several days. They are therefore quite Cubist in structure and thought, insinuating different planes and dimensions of the visible and the non-visible like the layers of marked tissue paper of a sewing pattern.