Our first project space residency artists, Sam Robinson and Rebecca Lucraft presented new works for the gallery launch. A recent graduate of the BA Painting at Wimbledon College of Art, Robinson overlays romantic paintings with geometric man-made forms, investigating our changing relationship to nature and landscape.
Here are Sam’s thoughts from his residency:
My work is concerned with a dynamic interplay between landscape painting, sculpture and geometric abstraction, navigating between ideas of Romanticism, Materialism and Environmentalism.
The paintings which are hung in the main gallery space are part of a series of works depicting harsh man-made structures set into or imposed upon large open wildernesses, carving up and channelling immersive spaces and movement within the paintings and creating a potential energy across planes of flat abstraction. The geometric forms themselves developed through observation of structures of power; dams, wind turbines and even the symbol of the national grid are transfigured into unlikely structures that resist entrance into the pictorial environment of the paintings: meditations on our changing relationship to landscape and our experience of natural spaces.
The residency offered me a great opportunity to revisit the painted image, a platform and a space in which to develop and display a new process of working. The process itself involved the development of an image on found boards. The first step was to cut structures into the surface of the wood, which were based on images of pylons and radio jamming masts, derived through the process of drawing. The second stage was an attempt to eke out a sense of scale and landscape by washing paint over the surface of the panels, drawing out the shapes and forms inherent in the material. For me the interest in the work lies in the attrition between the physicality of the material and the illusionistic sense of depth and scale in the pieces: impossible structures in an improbable symbiosis, where both deliberate and accidental marks and traumas in surface are left open to the viewer’s interpretation.
I was drawn to the images of radio jamming equipment as they seem to stand as symbols of the blocking of information as a barrier to experience, not purely aural, but also in the understanding of place and orientation.
The nature of the residency meant that the themes of the work and the developing pieces themselves were a constant conversation point with visitors to the gallery. Having discussions about the work in varying states of completion meant that ideas were always in a state of flux, providing food for rich conversation. It was great inviting local residents and artists into the space during the process, in a sense closing the gap between the making of the work the finished product. I think allowing the free participation of the public in the ideas behind the work in this case really helped to create a sense of involvement with what was going on in the gallery as a cultural meeting point for the community.
My most recent work that I have been involved in prior to the residency was concerned with pushing the relationship between painting and object. Using materials such as reclaimed wood, found objects, fragments of larger paintings, tools and clamps, I have spent the last months constructing precarious environments which draw in both pictorial and physical space. The excavation room offered me an exciting and totally unique space in which to continue to delve into site specific installation. Initially used as a store room in the early stages of the residency, the potential for sculpture offered itself up to me as I spent more time in the room. The installation comprises a mixture of found material which I had brought into the project space and existing material that was present in the room, left over from the construction of the gallery itself.
Using the existing architecture of the space as a basis for support and affecting the interplay of the materials through precarious mutual dependency, I fabricated a balanced environment combining drawing, sculpture and painting. The construction hints at the language of landscape; blackened beams span the height and length of the space and horizons of plywood penetrate the open air. Suspended panels carry rough swathes of paint, reminiscent of the sky, which may have been deliberate or accidental.
I found the idea of building an installation that alluded to the grand scale of landscape in such an awkward and confined space exciting, where the artwork itself delineates the physical boundaries of the room. Screws, clamps and counterweights also enter the compositional dialogue whilst simultaneously providing a physical balance, resulting in a three-dimensional drawing on the edge of being, and conscious of its own precarious survival.
These constructed environments, physical or pictorial, question a utopian synthesis between man and the natural world. They denote a precarious balance within a terminal environment, suitable for our epoch where uncertain global futures loom large over all material production; whether industrial or artistic.