I love the South Square Centre's quirky gallery spaces and was really looking forward to their new salon show although I was soon kicking myself for forgetting to submit my own work. When we arrived we found the venue already bursting at the seams and there was such a squash in the upstairs gallery where the salon was taking place that I only managed to make the briefest of notes as we shuffled round.
The hang was really impressive, floor to ceiling just like a proper salon exhibition. The work was thoughtfully displayed and I was left pondering how on earth they managed to cram it all in with no spaces. Given that the show was entirely unselected I was immediately impressed by the overall high standard of most of the work. Sadly there was no information with the works other than the name of the artist so some of this blog is based on guesswork!
For me there were several real highlights and these were in no particular order:
Gillian Holt Porcelain vases with photos and documents on their surfaces. They were sepia-toned, old stuff which looked like the result of family or local history research. The bone-white porcelain contrasted the poignant crumbling, faded photos and words, documenting long past lives.
Onile Onile The piece that caught my eye by this artist was a wall hung shallow open wooden box. Inside it was painted or rather encrusted with viridian green paint, several wooden partitions criss-crossed the interior and there were fragments of ceramic or flint placed randomly within. One, formed into a pebble imprinted with something indecipherable was placed on the top, like a visitor's rock placed on top of a jewish tombstone.
Ann Rutherford 'Brown Earth' A deceptively simple print of a curving sweep of ploughed field. It brought back powerful memories of the heavy clay fields of my childhood in Essex - a frozen sea of turned soil. It even reminded me of the smell of the freshly cut and turned earth.
Janet Molelland The work I liked by this artist was an abstract acrylic, mostly in grey in which I saw a stormy seascape, full of movement and power. It was a little like the work of the fabulous Katy Moran whose work I saw at MIMA a couple of years ago.
David Thomas This was the first artist whose work I knew. The piece that caught my eye was a grey acrylic study of pebbles in a white-washed corner- slightly unfocussed and soft. Lovely range of greys, and flaky whites.
Madelaine Burt She had a couple of square wall mounted pieces which may have been enamel on metal or glaze on a ceramic tile, I couldn't tell [checking her website I find it's neither! A resin-based medium it turns out, read more on her website]. Anyhow, the piece I loved had a gorgeous coppery-red surface with lots of subtle texure and depth, to one side was a fine white painted outline of what looked like a bird skeleton, I was reminded of Rozanne Hawksley's mummified birds or of a Pictish stone carving of some magical beast.
All in all a great show and we all enjoyed the veggie pie and peas and parkin and not forgetting the burning of the cardboard phoenix along with everyone's hopes and wishes for the coming year.
The show finishes on 23 December 2010. Opening times and details of other shows on in the same building at http://www.southsquarecentre.co.uk/