Text by Alice Bradshaw
For the first Launch Pad exhibition at Castlefield Gallery, Nina Chua, Tiago Duarte, Nicola Ellis, Shona Harrison and Ana Rosa Hopkins were invited to produce an exhibition, their first together since graduating from the MA Fine Art at Manchester School of Art in 2011 where they worked in a shared studio space. This self-organised selection of new works depicts commonalities of exploration of surface, concern with materiality and experimental processes.
Tiago Duarte’s subtle works on paper quietly ask for contemplation of materiality. Embossed paper, barely visible, hangs high on the two-storey wall of the gallery and simple oil on paper experiments study process, such as an A2 piece folded into 8 with oil blotted from a central point and unfolded back out to examine the results.
Nina Chua’s pen on paper works are saturated colour compositions of ruled felt tip pen, simultaneously playful and meticulous. Circus (2012) omits the lines themselves and presents a negative version of the making process; the marginal end-of-line dots marking a rectangular edge of another absent drawing.
Nicola Ellis’s Selected Drawings (2012) are simple marks in unspecified mixed media of watercolour tonality. Synthetic pastel hues form organic, flat surfaces alluding to experiments in control of mark-making. A sculptural work Indentare Major (2012) is an amorphous form of slate covered expanding foam, this too suggestive of an experimental relinquishment of control in the sculpture’s formation.
Shona Harrison uses found and manipulated objects in formal compositions of steel, oak, concrete and aluminium, intimating a traditional sculptural discourse through structural irregularities punctuating the gallery space.
Ana Rosa Hopkins employs everyday materials such as Lemsip, vitamin C and lipstick combined with ink on found glass in a study of surface. Additionally, in Two Form (2012) the interior vacuums of thermal flasks are positioned neck-to-neck, connoting an eternity figure-of-eight which reflects the viewer and the surrounding world.
The works are identified with a numbered gallery map, rather than wall-mounted labels, which lends the encounter to a collective reading of the works as well as individual consideration. Each work, artists’ style and set of concerns is distinguishable, but equally a complex set of affinities is apparent throughout the exhibition, evidencing a lasting mutual affect and collective resonance.
Launch Pad: Meanwhile See This is on display at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester until 4 November 2012. Launch Pad is a series of Castlefield Gallery Associate Member and Manchester School of Art Graduate exhibitions in between Castlefield Gallery’s core programme. Castlefield Gallery launch their Associates Scheme in December 2012.
Alice Bradshaw is an artist, curator, researcher and writer based in West Yorkshire.