Jo spent last August at Gallery@49 using it as a research space, please read my previous post about her time with us. Bracknell was just one 'place' in her research, she had several others, including the Water Meadows in Whitley, near Reading. She uses the concept of 'Presencing' first introduced by Otto Scharmer, to research how we get to know a place, her premise is that it is through "understanding, listening, being present in the place and relating to all aspects of it, no matter how small, by using all of our senses". Jo's work follows in the footsteps of artists Hamish Fulton or Richard Long where the art is a personal process, but society often requires an object or 'outcome' to present to an audience, I was curious to know what she chose. She had devised a series of 45 gestures or actions which formed her research enquiry, the outcomes were presented as photographic prints with corresponding text. The image here is of 'Gesture 40 - Solar Noon Shadows' in which she gilded the shadows of small plants growing through tarmac at solar noon each day for 2 weeks at midsummer. Her action raised her awareness of time, of the weather, of the variety of common plants that manage to take root in the tiniest of cracks in an urban pavement. Her practice is driven by questions, and 'presence' is her means of connecting with a place to search for the answers.
Place was also a focus of the last exhibition at Gallery@49 for Foundation: ReOrsa Founders Finale in April. I set-up ReOrsa, along with Jenny Parkes and Tonia Maddison, as a result of being given a place for a studio in Bracknell town centre back in 2006. As the demolition of Bracknell is looming, Jenny and I chose to reflect on our place within it one last time. Jenny used floor plans of our studios at 114 and 49 Broadway, with a map of Bracknell town centre in a distressed and aged torn paper collage surrounded by a rusted iron building support. The work spoke of the past, of memories, the dereliction and decay that this part of the town has endured. I had several pieces with references to Bracknell in the exhibition, as my work has used 'place' as a constant theme for many years. In the work shown below I chose to reflect on the decline of the High Street, even adding in my own 'Closing Down' signs that are all too familiar in Bracknell and elsewhere.
|work by Jenny Parkes (left) and Janet Curley Cannon (right)|
Our exhibition in the gallery ended in early May, though my large sculptural work in the corner window display remains in place until I find time to demolish it. My studio hours at the moment are spent packing boxes and numerous trips to the charity shop. On one such trip, my arms laden with picture frames I no longer required, I commented to the assistant that I was from the artists studio across from them. The woman excitedly said how much she 'loved' the sign on the work in the window and how it was a perfect statement of 'this place' at this moment in time. It's comments like that which make me smile and will remain with me long after I have left.
|Window display from Foundation showing|
'New Dead End Street' by Janet Curley Cannon