An Exhibition at Harts Lane Studios

17 Harts Lane, New Cross Gate, SE14 5UP

 

Angela Wright and Julian Wright    'Once Out of Nature'

Open to the public 27,28 and 29 March from 10.30 – 18.00

 

This is a collaborative exhibition by Angela Wright and Julian Wright. Angela is an installation artist exhibiting large scale works in Public Buildings and Julian works with photography.

 

They have brought together their individual skills to explore the metamorphosis of ‘cast off’ clothes into sculptural objects which could be seen to be loosely associated with ‘flowers’.

 

The ‘performances’, which are the subject of the exhibition, took place on location in the Thames Estuary. The videos and resulting sculptures have been installed at Harts Lane Studios’ Experimental Art Project Space.

 

 

Harts Lane Studios

The exterior of the Harts Lane Studios, a former garage, perhaps originally a coach house.

 

This old garage has been transformed into an exhibition space.

 

Gallery Space

The interior space of the gallery, larger than expected.

 

Angela describes the original performances

 

‘We made our way to Two Tree Island Nature Reserve which we had discovered on our recent visit to Leigh on Sea.

 

This 640 acre island consists of grassland, scrub, reed bed and lagoons and supports a wide variety of birds, particularly migrants. Avocets breed on the island each year.

 

We decided to drape female clothing on a row of upright dried out stick-like stems which had once supported wild flowers. The sticks were high enough to allow the clothes to both settle and flutter/move in the breeze. It was a strange sight; I was reminded of thinned out scarecrows, some of the clothes were black and there was something a little menacing about them. Display is a common theme in nature: birds display their plumage, flowers and plants their flowers and leaves. There were memories of clothes spread out over bushes to dry in the sun but there was no such practical reason in our activity; it was very much about display. By our actions we rendered these clothes useless and their non-organic shape, colour and texture made them at odds with the landscape and added a sense of intrigue. Was it possible that someone had really stripped off in this bird reserve in Essex? There was a slight concern that there would be onlookers making judgements.

 

 

Close by we found an enclosed pool in the marshes, rather like a washing place. It was surrounded by bundles of twigs and sticks. As the tide receded it left behind watery mud which we would use to make the clothes unfit for purpose and very much unrecognisable. The clothes were first thrown into the pool one at a time and then prodded beneath the surface of the mud until completely submerged. When the individual garments were finally fished out dripping and covered in mud they were wound into flower-like objects and placed on bamboo canes. Their metamorphosis revealed that they were now in keeping with their environment: no longer items of clothing which cover our bodies, keep us warm, are decorative, fashionable or point up our social position. They were now the colour of mud, unusable, of no value, just objects on sticks resembling strange flowers… perhaps a new type of teasel or reed head?

 

 

During our many conversations we referred to the meadows below Hadleigh Castle as a possible site for part 2 of our project. This was without seeing them close to, as if they were almost a given, as well as a bit like a homage to Constable’s poignant painting.

 

 

The weather conditions were wild on the day we worked on site below the castle. Clothes became flags/sails and it was sometimes almost impossible to control them and manipulate them. The work was a struggle, its making all about a battle of wills and a determination to win the day! The clothes as in project 1 were twisted into flower-like objects and placed on bamboo canes but on this occasion they brought colour to the landscape as the canes swayed in the wind. These clothes transformed into flowers perhaps prompted memories of summertime’.

 

 

The most imporant part of this exhibition is formed of two videos by Julian Wright, showing the two stages of the construction of the work. In the first, Angela is shown dipping the clothes in the estuary mud, and getting stuck in the mud herself while doing it!   And in the second she is shown setting the now sodden cloths on sticks in the meadows below Hadleigh Castle, a windswept location with a wide view over wet meadows, a railway line, and the sea beyond.

 

Julian exploits this location, the wind, the noise of the wind, the distant view, the bleakness of the day, the clouds racing across the sky, the occasional train screeching across the middle distance, to create a staccato effect of dynamic moments, sometimes frozen in time, sometimes racing quickly, that captures a process of creation over time, over the space of a blustery day in the Thames Estuary.

 

The work is a remarkable combination of two talents, even though it takes an effort of imagination for a gallery visitor to grasp the true nature of the actual event.

 

Constructing

Julian (right) talking to a visitor, with Angela in the centre background.

 

Constructing

Picture of Angela Wright re-constructing one of the original ideas.

 

Work 1

View of the work

 

Work 2

Two works being observed by Angela.

 

Looking 1

Visitors looking at the photographs.

 

Looking 2

Watching the Video.

 

looking at video 1

Looking at the Video.

 

Looking at Video 2

Looking at the Video.

 

Hadleigh Castle

Detail of photographs looking back towards Hadleigh Castle.

 

Constable's Painting

John Constable, 1776–1837, British, Hadleigh Castle, The Mouth of the Thames--Morning after a Stormy Night, 1829, Oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

 

Angela constructed the work on the slopes going down to the right as seen in Constable's painting of Hadleigh Castle, 1829.