Great Missenden Art exhibition

PUBLISHED: 14:14 02 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:13 20 February 2013

Great Missenden Art exhibition

Great Missenden Art exhibition

Artist Annie Gunning reviews the work of Joe Graham and Jayne Wilton - and you can see it, too

Drawing breath & Chinese whispers

Joe Graham & Jayne Wilton

Winners of the 2010 One Church Street Open Drawing Submission

inOut of Line

  • Exhibition runs until November 5.Thursday, 3 November, 6-7.30, Jayne Wilton will talk about her work in the Gallery

  • One Church Street Gallery, 1, Church Street, Great Missenden, Bucks. HP16 0AX01494 863344

Review by artistAnnie Gunning

Entrants to this prestigious, nationwide open submission were encouraged to interpret drawing as broadly as possible and Joe Grahams and Jayne Wilton's work particularly impressed the judges in taking both the concept and physicality of drawing into exciting and unexpected territory.

Jayne Wilton (who lives in Berkhamsted) explores making visible the human breath. By capturing breath's condensation, she records it through a variety of processes: as beautifully etched copper plates, as embossed paper reliefs, as graphite drawings on gesso-coated metal, or via a light source on to sensitised paper or film. Finally, made specially for this exhibition, blown glass forms describe the volume and echo the fragility and resilience of breath.

Breathe is an installation of many small, breath-etched copper plates, each immortalizing the breath of a different person. The colours are literally breathtaking and there are fascinating incidents such as the piece on which two people breathed onto the same plate and the resulting shape from their combined breath evokes a heart. On another, the breath has etched right through the plate, leaving a ragged hole. Most compelling are the huge variations in the patterning and colouration from the breath of each individual, resulting in the plates becoming a new kind of portraiture.

The Drawing Breath series uses breath, light and dark room processes to capture a trace of human breath on to photographic film. Displayed on a suspended glass shelf, these are exquisitely fragile and, being so light, respond to the slightest draft, even the breath of the viewer!

Three Wishes explores the visible trace of desire as articulated by the human breath. As the wishes are spoken over a light source, the breath, embodying each intention, is recorded onto sensitized paper. The Three Wishes in this show, Love, Health & Happiness and Freedom are large yet delicate renderings that feel so light, in both senses of the word, they look as though they might float away, as wishes and hopes so often do.

The volume of spent breath, resulting from different breathing gestures is embodied in Blow, a series of blown glass forms, some suspended like giant, misbehaving bubbles from the ceiling, others finding their own space to inhabit. The transparency echoes the invisibility of their generating force and the fragility of the glass echoes the fragility of the breath, whose emerging form manages, nevertheless, to create these bold, gentle and sometimes tragically comic structures.

Subtle white embossed reliefs of captured breath, white nylon, drawn sculptures embodying spoken words, and an animated film of breath during a conversation, complete this extraordinary and comprehensive survey of ways in which the invisible breath can be made visible and made art.

Joe Grahams work, taken from his series Flight of the Jubjub Bird, is an installation of six large, framed gicle prints, and occupies an entire wall of the gallery to arresting effect. Deriving from a process involving repetitive copying, Graham uses the mistakes inherent in the copying process to generate new forms. Normally beginning with a source image to start the process, each new image in a sequence is an imperfect copy of the previous, where certain marks are lost and new ones added in a game of graphic Chinese whispers. Preliminary drawings are in pencil but subsequent processes include various forms of digital mark-making, overlaying and, in this case, gicle printing.

Unusually, Graham has chosen Lewis Carroll's written description of the Jubjub Bird, from his nonsense poems Jabberwocky and The Hunting of the Snark, as thestarting point for this series, selecting it precisely because it does not have a definitive visual form.

Considering Grahams deep involvement with process, I was surprised by my emotional response to the work. There is an ephemeral quality, a dream-like coming-and-going-ness in the movement from one drawing to the next, and an uplifting lightness in the touch of the marks. They evoke rubbings and rubbings out; they speak of fragility, of change and delicate balance, of the temporal quality of all things, and ultimately of mortality.

At first glance, there might not appear to be any relationship between the drawings of Graham and Wilton; in Grahams work the process is the concept, whereas Wiltons processes are suggested by the concept. Yet, as I looked more intently and read what the artists had written, many parallels emerged. The intentional use of chance and accident are features of both artists work as are fragility and a sense of mortality. Both push their processes to the nth degree. Each marks the temporality of their work, seeking to tie down a moment by embodying traces of it in their drawings, Graham by building and discarding marks in stages, and Wilton by immortalising the transience of breath in delicate records of instants in time. But the feeling I came away with was that the work of both artists cannot be grasped or tied down it would dissolve in your hand; it floats and soars and transcends its own concepts and processes. Go and see it, youll understand why they won.


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