THE EXHIBITION showcases a selection of eccentric compositions in multiple disciplines by like-minded contemporary artists
in conversation around the theme: Adaptability.
"The idea for this exhibition had only started to become a reality shortly before the first Covid lockdown in January 2020, and was swiftly put on hold..."
The seven, with usually quirky compositions in multiple disciplines and from very different walks of life, are: Suzy Abrahams, Orsi Cowell-Lehoczky, Wilf Frost,
Dani Humberstone, Vivien Phelan, Heather Tobias,
and Ann Marie Whaley.
Suzy challenges the boundaries separating art and design in her geometric
acrylic paintings. Her work reflects a subtle understanding of the key elements of artistic composition, in particular, line, colour and shape, the circle as a recurring theme.
"Adapting to the constraints of the past year, I focused on the positivity of incorporating meaningful words onto canvas whilst still retaining my commitment to my journeys in geometric
Heather works with porcelain and oxides: The results are unexpected when the magic of happenstance occurs. She takes her inspiration from the past, then creates characters who might appear historical in their reference but are, in essence, of our time.
"I looked up the meaning of Adaptation and what fired my imagination was:
"a vivid depiction or representation of someone or something in history”.
So I began to create a group of Elizabethan characters. They have become my players, and all have different roles to play in the hierarchy of my fictional court.
The mediums I have used include Indian inks and Bleach on paper or Oxides painted onto porcelain and fired to a high temperature. This can create extraordinary results and unexpected reactions occur.
The distressed frames I sourced to add history to my characters.
The two ceramic figures are the Queen and the Master of Horse.
The rest consist of drawings of the court.
The roles include the Lady of the Bedchamber, and Groom of the Stool."
Ann Marie Whaley
“Determined not to lose my mind during Lockdown 2020, and not to clear out my cupboards, I turned to using the more manageable materials for drawing, ie. graphite, charcoal, chalk, watercolour and paper at home instead of the less manageable materials (in my hands anyway) of oil and acrylic paint and canvas in my studio. After some false starts, I re-discovered how much I enjoy drawing for its own sake. Following an online course in composition gave me an incentive to keep at it - with an intensity that I would not have applied had I not been my own captive audience.
Since returning to studio painting late in 2020 , I have been working more with monochrome, and with low intensity colour in various media.
It gives me great pleasure when I find a bit of colour emerging or escaping from a more monochrome painting. Perhaps I should have cleared those cupboards, but I hope these paintings will give you some pleasure too.”
Orsi chooses oil and acrylic paint as her preferred medium, creating analytic paintings with dream-like figuralism and shifted dimensions; leaning toward abstraction and multidisciplinary practice. Her subject is drawn from present time events and she tends to direct attention to different interpretations of the mundane, with a desire to speak up or to escape.
“I feel, that our world has lost its focus, the priorities are out of sync: so I make my canvas suffocate in lots of meanings and meaningless details. This increasing insecurity culminated during the pandemic: On a personal level I became very comfortable having minimal contact with the “outside” during the Lockdowns and that scared me: I have realised the ease with one can find oneself in complete isolation. When I realised how important it is to the society to keep life-saving services operating, and the communal and personal effort it took under the circumstances, it made me feel insignificant, “non-essential" as an artist. That’s when 'Without Air' was born.“
Vivien's inspiration comes from the mixture of Victorian statuettes and the English language sayings. Her favourite medium is clay which she enjoys working on the potter’s wheel, then to manipulate it from smooth to make new forms.
“So many times in my life I have had to adapt, but this past year, I feel, has been the most difficult. Possibly, because the need to adapt did not come from me but from the pandemic.
My first adaptation was when I left my family in Belgium at 16 years old to come to England, trained as a nurse where I had a great career.
Second adaptation was following retirement from nursing, I returned to university and retrained as a ceramic and glass artist.
My 3rd adaptation was going on BBC 1, the program called ” Home Is Where The Art Is”. I jointly won my heat and my life changed again.
Wilf is a veteran of the urban art movement. During the lockdown of 2020 his art took on a new direction;
Wilf did his Masters in sculpture and installation, so was always keen to rediscover this medium...
He started to collect interesting found objects and painted on them. These objects ranged from Thames beach finds, ebay purchases and skip scavenges.
He used the motifs that he painted on his canvases to bring the objects alive. This includes inspiration from a large range of things such as visually appealing patterns, street art and storytelling.
Plants and leaves also feature, referencing his other profession as a landscape
The thing that excited him most was that these objects had their own history and narrative before they were found which added another dimension to his work.
Dani uses the imagery of fruit in much of her work – she is interested in their metaphorical and symbolic use in both the visual arts, literature, and mythology. The use of traditional painting techniques and strong light and shade or chiaroscuro creating a sense of drama. There is a surreal quality and wit in much of her work but importantly there is also a respectful nod to the painters of the Renaissance and many influences from the Dutch Masters of the 15th and 16th century.
She says, “As a painter I can tear the visual curtain to reveal a microscopic world within worlds, layered memory and with the inclusion of personal objects, the work almost becomes portraiture.” And “Within my work I aspire to fuse the still-life tradition and Vanitas painting within a contemporary context, using both familiar objects and ideas.”
The meaning of ADAPTION or ADAPTING is to ‘a process of change to become better suited to the environment’ which could not be more relevant to the last year for all of us. I remember distinctly, sitting in my studio as the galleries, art fairs and exhibitions rapidly shut, staring out of the window thinking what the hell do I do now?
As artists we record the everyday, our place in history. Consciously or unconsciously, we take the world, warts, and all, and nuanced by our individual voice, experience, and circumstance filter it into our work.
So much of making art is in the thinking process, but the emptiness of a sudden open-ended amount of time in which to think was strange and unsettling. However, the freedom and opportunity to experiment finally pushed open the floodgates with an uprush of both latent and completely new ideas. We were in total lockdown, with no idea of when or if the pandemic would end or be controlled by a vaccine. It was something we could never imagined happening, there was real fear and loneliness and would change us all, globally.
My studio was where I went to feel ’normal’, making art, painting every day, using the time, the quiet, the anxiety to invent. Strangely it was and the ripple of those months continue to be one of the most creative times in my life.”
Art Fund Prize Gallery @ The Lightbox
Opening Hours | Tue-Sat: 10.30am – 5.00pm | Sun: 11.00am – 4.00pm | Closed Mondays and Bank Holidays.
Entry is FREE, and there is no need for pre-booking for this gallery space. (You may need it for the upper floors.)
The exhibition now open!
Social distancing measures are still in place throughout the building.
Visitors are encouraged to use NHS Test & Trace app when entering the building and to wear a mask or face covering during their visit.
(Safety measures follow the recommended guidelines.)
There is no need for pre-booking to visit the Art Fund Gallery, shop and cafe, but you may need it to visit the Main and Upper Galleries. Please check up-to-date information at www.thelightbox.org.uk/safety-measures.
Thank you for your interest,
we hope you enjoy the show!