Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
© Adrienne Hunter Pett Level

© Adrienne Hunter Pett Level

Showcasing SoCo artists

Last year SoCo Artists presented Showcase 1, a curated show of members selected by a committee of SoCo artists. The Showcase process allows artists to develop or consolidate a body of work supported by workshops, discussions and feedback. It proved so successful that it is back again as Showcase 2.  HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths went along to take a look.

It’s an interesting show. Diverse, changes of pace, variety of styles, drawings, paintings, collage and sculptures. All 11 artists  are different and have clearly benefited from the workshops that have given them the opportunity to develop their work or go in different directions.

© Sally Cole

© Sally Cole

This was refreshing and seemed to be appreciated by the audience. Overhearing snippets of conversation at the private view people were making complimentary comments, such as “new”, “different”, “stretching”, “moving forward”, “I wouldn’t have thought that that was X’s work”, “brave”.

Themes and materials echo between the works. Explored and excavated are lines and traces etched by nature and humans, the force of nature, transition, fragility, erosion, transformation, even melancholy.  Several artists have introduced bones, shells and collage. Whether these have emerged through workshops or serendipitity, who knows. Few artists, in truth, realistically recreate a landscape – it is inevitable that they see what is out there and then transform it into their own landscape, layering it with their memories and experiences; as highlighted in Helen Scalway’s titles: Mind as Place and Back of my Mind.

Sally Cole is fascinated by the fragility and elusivity of mountain forms –  rising, dipping and folding, mining the essence of a landscape into heartfelt marks of abstraction. Jean Davey-Winter’s rediscovery of painting (layering and scratching into the paint) has  brought new life to mapping her thoughts on canvas. Approaching it with a peripheral vision has encouraged her towards abstraction.

Carly Ralph low tide 1, 2 & 3

Carly Ralph low tide 1, 2 & 3

Inspired by the primordial, powerful character of the cliffs and beach of Pett Level, Adrienne Hunter has been drawn to experiment with a larger scale. “There is a freedom in that scale which allows bigger, riskier gestures.” Whereas Carly Ralph, taking photographs in the magical evening light, has combined the huge backdrop of the sea and its erosion by distilling and stilling the waves’ impressions on the sand. Jill Hartman  transforms ‘stuff’ – shells, seaweed and leaves picked up on her walks – into still lives forming “memories of weather and light conditions of a particular place and time”.

Lynne Bingham and Susan Watts have made a tower, as has G M Metcalfe. Both appear as totems and, in their different ways, explore the fragility of life. Bingham and Watts’ Decomposition is made of sand containing bones over rusting metal structures looking at the transitoriness of  life. “After we have gone we leave traces behind in memories, genetics, artefacts and our remains. Over time even these fade and decay” – which is what is slowly happening to their sculpture.

G M (Gillian) Metcalfe evokes melancholia and depression in her sculptural tower blocks, Black Sun. Paintings and found objects decorate the towers, with computer circuit boards, mobile phone, cave paintings and figures, and a black crow stands atop one of them, a twig in its beak as it builds a nest. “The intention is to represent the emptiness of life in deprived areas of our coastal towns, where statistics show that depression is often prevalent.”


Katherine Reekie: Composition with turquoise box

Collage has been introduced by Hunter into her cliffscapes and by Metcalfe on her tower block. David Reeve has turned from painting to collage to capture the fascination and drama of the fishing beach.

Helen Scalway has produced thought-provoking ‘books’ that can be twisted and juxtaposed into various configurations to playfully investigate the idea of the house as an expression of human identity. Or as a metaphor for the self.

Katherine Reekie seems to stand alone with her intriguing still lives. They seem perfectly rational, until on closer inspection their illogical nature coalesces  into a somewhat unsettling fantasy. No surprise she describes herself as “a figurative surrealist”.

I don’t know when the showcase programme started but it has evidently been long enough to encourage, push, pull and stretch the artists. Or just given them the time, opportunity and confidence to experiment.

Artists featured  in the exhibition are  Lynne Bingham, Sally Cole, Jean Davey-Winter, Jill Hartman, Adrienne Hunter, Gillian Metcalfe, Carly Ralph, Katherine Reekie, David Reeve, Helen Scalway and Susan Watts.

SoCo Showcase 2 is at the Hastings Arts Forum, 36 Marina, St Leonards-on-Sea TN38 0BU, 11am-5pm, until 25 June.


Posted 18:03 Wednesday, Jun 21, 2017 In: Visual Arts

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