Tuesday, 27 May 2014

'MISS' by Roy Voss

Charlie Booth writes:

On an unusually sunny day for March, David Knowles, Roy Voss and I took a trip to the neighbouring village of Haworth to visit the meadow at the Brönte Parsonage, one of the new sites for MISS.

MISS is the latest in a series of annual commissions for South Square Gallery, developed in partnership with the Brönte Parsonage Museum, which provide the opportunity for artists to engage with the context of the surrounding landscape.

Roy Voss, a London based artist will use the Brönte Meadow to site a series of ‘signs’ or ‘notices’ amongst the natural landscape, repeated three times they will spell MISS.
Giving the heavy significance Voss places on the single word within his work during the site visit I asked him to expand on the significance of the word ‘Miss’:
‘Given we are in Bronte country, there is an idea of missing the three Misses. Miss is simply a title that suggests singleness or youth. It could also suggest a longing for someone or something, but it has several other meanings of course: To not hit a target, to fail to be somewhere, to overlook or not comprehend something, to not take a chance, to fall short.’

Voss’ signs will be made from untreated steel which will gradually begin to rust, so as to form a kind of physical proof of the weather, rather than being weatherproof. It is possible to draw links between the literary work of the Bronte sisters and Voss signs, as the Brönte sisters’ work are heavily influenced by the dramatic, unruly nature of the Moor’s weather. I think his choice of material is particularly fitting for the context of the piece, when you consider the surrounding industries located on Thornton Road. As I travel to South Square and drive through the outskirts of Bradford up to Thornton I pass many industrial builders yards and steel works. By locating manufactured steel structures directly in to the picturesque rural landscape, I see in Voss’ work the connotations of the historical landscape of the area; a history of industry and manufacturing in the heart of the picturesque Yorkshire countryside.
Running simultaneously alongside the work at the Brönte Parsonage, Voss will open an exhibition within the South Square Gallery. A theatrically over-sized backdrop cuts diagonally across the first space, emphasising the domestic scale and feel of the room.

In what will become the second gallery space, small collages featuring found images and words will hang. Synonymous with the tourist industry, postcards are used as mementoes of the picturesque settings of destinations, but also as correspondence between absent loved ones. In my opinion, by selecting singular words frequently written on the back of postcards, such as ‘MISS’, Voss is highlighting the absence of the intended receiver.

 Located within some of Voss’ previous work there is a commentary on English tourism marketing strategies. By simultaneously emphasising the depiction of the ‘ideal’ countryside, as seen in his picturesque epic scenery, he suggests that this ‘ideal’ is a façade to the reality of the countryside. That a postcard selects what the visitor wishes to remember about the visit – an idyllic holiday, or it serves to communicate with the absent loved one that they somehow missed out, ‘wish you were here’.

Personally, the hand-painted backdrop and the postcards placed together in the exhibition comment on the attempt by the tourism industry have to portray a realistic and authentic image of the countryside. Yet both are selected and edited and become a constructed view designed to promote the locale and attract more visitors. They ignore some of the many other less attractive issues prevalent in rural communities.

Accompanying MISS, Voss has created a special edition print booklet which will be available at sites, South Square gallery and Brönte Parsonage Museum.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Samantha Donnelly: Sampling Imagery

Clare Nadal writes

Zabludowilz Addition, 2011. Image courtesy the Artist and Ceri Hand Gallery.

We are now busy installing in preparation for Samantha Donnelly’s solo exhibition Sampler which opens on Friday evening. Artistic Programmer David Knowles and I went to visit Sam in her studio last month to see what she had got planned for the exhibition.

For an artist so acutely in tune with our relationships to modern life and the impacts of advertising and consumerism on society, Sam’s studio location in rural Mosley, beside the Pennine moors, came as something of a surprise. Finally, after several wrong turns and confusion from sat nav, we reached the studio spaces housed within a grim imposing – and very cold – ex Lancashire mill.  

Though a tiny studio space, I was immediately struck by the wealth of material and imagery in Sam’s studio. Critical art books rubbed against fragments of sculptures, with collage and photographic material spread around. This notion of archiving, collecting and the found object is key to Sam’s practice as her sculptural work combines ephemera with personal trinkets such as tassels, beads and hair. In this way her sculptures form fragile, seemingly temporal structures – often remade/reassembled for each new setting - that seem to reference our own modern throwaway culture.
Long Player Lasting Finish, 2013. Image courtesy of the Artist and Ceri Hand Gallery.

Forming a key focal point in her studio was a cyanotype photographic series from images Sam captured whilst travelling in Japan. Quoting the camera and the act of looking, this series speaks of what it is to see and be seen in modern day life. The example of the Chinese and Japanese worship of material culture asks us to consider the new ‘religion’ of the commercial, of idolatry and shrines.
Studio Image 1

Studio Image 2

Studio Image 3

For her show at South Square, Sam has been very keen to consider the architecture and heritage of the gallery space, specifically its domestic and landscape associations, and the industrial and textile heritage of the Bradford region. The show’s very title ‘Sampler’ references this directly, whilst also highlighting Sam’s eclectic and experimental practice that brings together a multitude of cultural references to bombard the viewer.  With shifts in scale and direct intervention with the gallery space (including applying watercolour paint direct to the gallery wall!), the intimate sculptural works will form an installation in dialogue with itself, activating the space around it.
Install Image 1. Courtesy of the Artist.

In referencing the consumerist, Sam’s work speaks of the desired and the alluring – that which is so often humanised, associated with female sexuality. In many of the works a guiding arm with a pointing finger, or a beautiful outstretched leg asks us to come and look closer. Like all the mythical male sailors, enticed by beautiful sirens, we cannot help but draw closer. The meretricious, the idealised and the dreamlike combine together, yet whether we should embrace or fear the material is left unanswered.

Sampler opens to the public on Saturday 5 April and runs until 25 May 2014.