The title of this exhibition Play is echoed throughout, Rebecca Eastment makes abstract paintings on MDF that have warm and cold colour tones dynamically interacting. Matthew David Smith’s objects encompass mirrors that are held underneath a skylight so the viewer is caught in the flow of light around the work and the artistic process becomes a circle.
The delicate detail of Hannah Pascoe’s laser cut prints show leaves that look to be falling off the stem. Sketches of ‘Quickthorn’ buds and preserves sourced from the Chiltern Hills of Pollyanna Morgan’s childhood are in an exhibit that exudes security. ‘I remember my pet dinosaur’ by Elsa Trueman puts the tiny details of a skull next to a gnarled chunk of wood indicating the scale of the beasts.
Feeling rooted in the past, I sense optimism in the abstract flow of back-lit images of soft membranes that are slit so fluid oozes out. Surfaces stretch, glisten and give way in Edward Sheldrick’s work. In a similar narrative of human experience, Emma Read gathers folds in paper to create a concertina effect to make sculpture. Showing incredible patience of folding, I wonder what other species could achieve such purpose.
Having discovered the contrasts that resonate across this exhibition, I want to tear up the sign that reads ‘Fragile Work’ next to Matthew Girling’s ideologically solid installation. His model railway piece blows me away. A model train moves around a track adorned with wooden arches, whilst a black and white film plays the image of the rickety path as seen from the front of the train. The viewer both participates and observes in the experience of his art. Next to this is Alexa Miller’s beautiful film of rain on water. The grey texture of the water moves naturally as the ripples move, creating the illusion of colour amongst the grey.
The negative and positive spaces of living areas are revealed playfully. The coloured shelves in Anamaria Perescu’s installation are used to display objects designed in the Bauhaus era, whereas Tom Plumptre shows images of empty houses focussing on gaps, where shelves may have been.
A video of a mysterious person dancing beside disco lights wearing a Chador represents how reality emerges. Sometimes the person is seen, sometimes they are out of view in Afsaneh Doroushi’s engaging work. In the same room Ioanna Cheimona creates images of figures half in darkness where the body almost twists into the shadow, looking for enlightenment.
The work shows that creating art is about reaching out. There is something of each of the artists in the work, literally, Zoe Maslen has her own hair moulded into the shape of her forearm and face. Laura Moore makes a video of herself washing up in the great outdoors. Sam St Varnham brings embarrassing situations to life with slogans painted on the wall like, ‘Sex is easy. Love is hard’.
Amongst a series of black fractured stripes (by Ishah Rayson) on white background is the iconic blank canvas. This reminds me of the need to send something, anything into the world and the meaning will follow.
As I leave, the receptionist points to a moving film by sound artist Sean Wright and as we chat I am painfully aware of how much talent is on display (more than I can cover in one review). In the foyer, a free-standing bicycle wheel with letters on the rubber tyre is parked up next to the imprint the wheel would make when cycling it over a clear surface (Emma Mayoux-Andrews). As I walk back through Headington Hill the shapes made in the tree, mirrors the elegant paper cut outs displayed by Alice Cleary. Art has inspired nature.
(Some of the Artists featured will be exhibiting in June at Isis Gallery, Hanbury St London)