When I walked into the ground floor gallery at Modern Art Oxford I didn’t realise the work on display would teach me how to be human.
Only after connecting deeper with the work does it become obvious to me that each artist has the experience of living with a disability.
The collective of artists known as ‘Shadowlight’ have been working together since 2009. 2017 saw one of their members, Richard Hunt, win the Shape Open prize. Hunt continues to work with Sonia Boue to develop new pieces and in this show brings painted rocks upon sand as an installation. The backdrop is a continually lapping wave projected onto a screen behind the silhouette of a boat. Each rock is uniquely painted according to the experience of the moment. The drawing is connected to the natural shape of the rock, for example one has the outline of a wheelbarrow, and so the design takes hold. Richard Hunt explains that as an artist he prefers rocks over canvas. As a further layer, each rock he works on is connected to a musical memory. The story of each object is transformed by his interpretation of a song coming from every rock.
More is revealed about the construction of each piece in the multi-media film playing as a backdrop to the exhibition. Film
Each artist takes a different route to finding their work; for example, Russell Highsmith is part of the collective and in 2016 became the first writer with learning disabilities to have a play produced on the
The style of work produced by this group of artists is refreshingly eclectic. The link between natural history and memory is investigated in Danny Smith’s inspired mixed-media film. The story of Red Riding Hood is played out on screen utilising the skills of the group. In addition, an animation with a quirky humour shows a mix of autobiography and fantasy by Tom Breach.
Lucy Skuce embraces identity and incorporates this in her work by showing how the world is constructed around daily domestic actions. She uses a free-standing window pane that engages with visitors who cast a shadow through the film playing on the screen as they walk past.
I am moved by the honesty of Mark Hemsworth, a photographer who says he braves the cold to capture sunsets. Sunsets and collecting images are his passion - simple as that. His words echo the best view of life one could possible hold, as he is filmed on top of a hill near Uffington. Being true about passions that are felt as part of the human experience, Hemsworth follows his path to complete a mosaic of 255 shots of sunsets. In the film, he says he is having his moment in the limelight but it is the viewer who enjoys the colourful light of his emergence into the mainstream.