The Drawing Project – Castlefield Gallery

Text by Sophie Preston

Castlefield Gallery’s latest exhibition in the Launch Pad series, The Drawing Project, is curated by artist, Jenny Core. Alongside Core’s work, the exhibition presents six North West based artists including, Sophia Crilly, Hondartza Fraga, Mary Griffiths, Lesley Halliwell, Jenny Steele and Claire Weetman. The exhibition presents the medium of contemporary drawing as a ‘final outcome’, rather than a participatory aid in the journey of a finished work.

Walking from the direction of Deansgate, the large psychedelic roulettes of Lesley Halliwell’s spirograph drawing, Fanatic, 4500 minutes (2014), shimmer from the gallery window. The work’s neon and gold colour palette, its playful nostalgia for a 1970s children’s drawing apparatus, betray the painstaking ardor of creating such vertiginous repetitions – the work’s title alludes to the number of hours Halliwell spent on the drawing. The philosopher, Gilles Deleuze, has taught us that with repetition comes difference, and Halliwell revels in the inevitable ‘mistakes’ that occur with such a drawing practice. The wiry biro bleeds and is made rich, as Halliwell transforms and transcends the ordinary pen.

Moving downstairs; pain, play, precision and repetition also feature in the work of Claire Weetman. In, Watermark 2012, four television screens laid out in a square on the gallery floor, allow us to follow and relive Weetman on her hands and knees, mark-making with water a solitary line on the pavement of a large pedestrianized square in Istanbul. In spite of the kneepads, Weetman’s weariness is evident by the end of the film, as she playfully and painfully disrupts and reveals the impermanent traces of everyday journeys.

The intimacy of the everyday is taken up in the work of Sophia Crilly. Crilly’s re-creations of found and archival biographical material see her inhabit the lives of her chosen subjects. Her exquisitely rendered drawings inspired by Sol Le Witt’s sketchbooks, transform a single part of an artist’s often vast archive into a work of art, releasing it from its historical fixedness as historic material.

Jenny Steele, uses drawing to compose three-dimensional sculptures of postcolonial architecture, created as a result of research undertaken in North and South Africa.  Using drawn colour applied onto coloured card, Steele creates small-scale narratives of architectural compositions. Using everyday, low cost materials, Steele’s sculptures are antithetical to the banality and sterility of professional architectural models, often far removed from the communities they are designed for.

Also downstairs, Hondartza Fraga’s work makes the inanimate intimate. Her series, Incandescent, (2011), features single light bulbs placed on white plinths seemingly casting shadows. On closer inspection their shadows are in fact finely detailed drawings; documenting northern narratives of cast cranes, chimneys, and industry.

Upstairs in the more intimate space of the gallery, Jenny Core’s work defines moments. Using graphite powder, Core interrogates traces on paper, documents the process of drawing itself, and creates beautiful renderings of chance. Opposite, mirroring the galleries mezzanine glass balcony, Mary Griffiths colonises an area of wall with graphite. Surface imperfections, visitor’s reflections, even reflections of Halliwell’s work all become drawn in the graphite mirror.

Core’s subtle curation of the exhibition, with few words, allows the work on display to resonate long after leaving the exhibition. Indicative of human experience, The Drawing Project documents narratives.

Sophie Preston is a writer, trainee curator and PhD candidate in Art History at the University of Manchester

Published 20.02.2014 by Ali Gunn in Reviews

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