Monday, 13 July 2009

Review of Frances Kearney's exhibition Fishing for Trout

Frances Kearney: Fishing for Trout
11th July - 31st August 10 - 6pm Mon - Sat
Norwich Arts Centre, St Benedict's street, Norwich NR2 4PG

When Frances Kearney moved back home to Norfolk a few years ago she became freshly aware of the fragile land around her North Norfolk home. While this series of 12 large A0 photographs showing now in Norwich Arts Centre is not autobiographic, it deals with the imaginative world of the young girl for whom the reedbeds, the shallow marsh pools and the deserted buildings are a background to intense imaginative play.

Reference to Emerson in unavoidable in the reedbed pictures. Like Emerson, the figures are most carefully chosen and posed. Fixed between the large skies and massed vegetation and the minute details of hands and feet, the young girls play just at the far end of childhood, lost in a world of inner drama and poetry. The viewer, perhaps with memories or children of their own, is stuck outside the scene, looking on helplessly as running flames and open waters menace the oblivious children.

Empty buildings in some of the pictures reference the decline of Nature, as per the quote of the title, taken from Cormack McCarthy's 'The Road' whose final paragraph depicts the act of catching the flashing dappled trout as an image of intense living. The gazebo frame on the marsh in which a girl seems to sob recall the grid Bacon placed his anguished people. A girl stands in a sheet of water on a thing like a large military wheel. She has butter on her hands. Will the birds eat her?

The pictures are primarily beguilingly beautiful, but beyond this they are fastidiously constructed. I have to declare an interest - I've often sat in on Frances's post-shoot selection, pouring over each shaft light, turn of the head, looming of the clouds. Everything is deliberate, even the accidents. The composition and its components are comparable to Dutch still lives in which each object is loaded - the half-peeled lemon, the glass, the crumpled cloth.

Make sure you don't miss this really gorgeous exhibition by one of Norfolk's most talented and distinguished artists.

Next week's review: Colin Wilkin at St Jude's Gallery

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