SoCo artists go red
SoCo Artists is an evolving group of professional artists based in East Sussex, which presents a challenging programme of exhibitions, public arts, events and talks in an eclectic range of venues, taking their work to a wide and varied audience. Roz Cran, one of the group, reviews RED, their new show in Trinity Gallery.
“A colourful affair” was how one visitor described RED, the exhibition at Trinity Gallery on Trinity Street, Hastings. The opening last Thursday was a splendid event. Other comments on the show included “warming” and “seasonal,” and some guests were dressed in red.
All the work in this annual members’ show by 33 SoCo artists contains red, ranging from a single red biro line in Eugene Palmer’s Paper Plane to full-on glowing red in Red on Red by the aptly named Jen Painter.
As a member of SoCo Artists myself, I was impressed by the variety of media and technique and intention, and the huge range of reds. The works run from the political, Angela Braven’s Ban FGM and They sang louder to hide my screams, to the geometrical pattern of Tim Cross’s pink Away from the Flock and Paul Bartholomew’s orange Love in an Elevator-Go-ing-Down, to the painterly Rhapsody in Red by Rose Miller and the textile pieces Red Jewels and Fragments by Claire Buckley. From this wide range of work I pick out my personal highlights.
Mary Morris’s Venetian Red Book Volume I and II do remind me of Venice. The artist speaks of “the decadence and grandeur of Venice only partially concealed behind the façade of beautifully crumbling walls and elegant architecture.” The papers and silks she has collected and gathered together, layer upon layer of deep red, rust with traces of gold, thin, curling at the edges, call up the centuries of history, the archaeological feel and old book smell of Venice.
Paint, pencil and ink are used by Helen Hunt to draw moths on antiquarian book covers from the Victorian era. Here she has chosen to show Scarlet Tiger Moth Callimorpha dominula. The moth merges with the hand-marbled cover, forever caught, recalling the collections of Lepidoptera popular in the 19th century.
I was thrilled to see Lynne Bingham’s Scarlet Pimpernel because when I was eight I had a club, The Scarlet Pimpernel Club. Members had a cardboard badge with a safety pin and paid 2d subs a week. A register was kept, along with the money, in a round tobacco tin. All was hidden in the roots of an old oak tree near the River Mole.
Lynne works with assemblages that constitute altered books containing a collection of objects. She said that as soon as she knew that the winter exhibition would have a red theme, the obvious book to work with was The Scarlet Pimpernel, the classic adventure novel by Baroness Orczy that she remembered from her youth. The hero, Sir Percy Blakeney, leads a double life rescuing French nobles from Robespierre’s Reign of Terror. Every time there was an escape, the public prosecutor received a paper with a little red flower on it
Carly Ralph is a textile artist who works with found shoreline materials: plastics, fibres, metal. Carly told me that for her textile piece Sea Washed she reconstructed fragments from an ancient cotton tarpaulin unearthed from the shingle. She has highlighted the patches and mendings which were made at a time when all goods were precious and people took the time to repair materials. The original red is faded by sea and weather to a variety of grey and red hues.
In Red Rock1 and 2 Jean Davey Winter has digitally manipulated photographs taken last year in the Garden of the Gods in Colorado – a towering red rock face glowing in the late afternoon sun. She has added acrylic paint and then layered with text from the poem Pictographs by the American writer William L Fox.
This exhibition glows with pink and carmine, orange and magenta, a rich mix of paintings, prints and assemblages. Well worth a look as you pass on your way to the library or Trinity Wholefoods.
RED: an exhibition by SoCo Artists at Trinity Gallery, Trinity Street, Hastings. Open 9.30am-5pm Mon-Fri and 10.30am-4pm Sat until Wednesday 11 December.
Trinity Gallery website.