Sunday, 19 July 2015

"Existence" at The Zoe Hawkins Gallery in Winchester

"Existence" featuring work by Annabel Dover, Sarah Jeffries, Gareth Kemp, Harry Pye, Jo Wilmot. (Curated by Sarah Jeffries) is on at The Zoe Hawkins Gallery, 9 St Clements Street in Winchester from 18th July till 18th August.
(Above: ‘We Just Want To Be Free’ by Sarah Jeffries oil on plywood, 2014.) Why are we here? Where did this all come from? What do we do with our lives? What do we leave behind? Understanding existence usually throws up far more questions than answers, and can send us in to a kind of mental chaos. All we know for sure is our desires and emotions. To understand existence is to put our trust in numbers and symbols to paint the picture of what the universe looks like out there. That is, until another physicist comes along to disprove the big bang theory, and then we’re back to uncertainty once again. Reflecting on human history, it seems we have never had it so easy, but is life easier with the modern technology that science has provided us with? The masses look to scientists as the key holders to our dreams - a robot to do all our chores, virtual reality games, 3D cinemas and televisions scenes to whisk us away to a more exciting life, perhaps a time machine is next to be on the market once the physicists work out the mechanics of the universe. If, throughout much of the world, humans are dependent on science to be the God of dreams, where does nature come in to it all? Our primitive survival skills are rarely used or passed on to our children. If all our beloved technology fails will we be able to survive? Surely, in such advanced times, our relationship with the natural world is of paramount importance. This show looks at a group of artist who challenge how we look at the world and our existence.
Harry Pye studied at Winchester School of Art in 1995 and in the second year of the course he did an artist's placement with the sculptor Bruce McLean. Twenty years later his work returns to Winchester in this very sincere, direct and heart felt group show. His professional art practices have made him in to somewhat of an art entrepreneur, with many fingers in different pies “pardon the pun”. Running his own ‘Harry Pye’s FRANK Magazine’), writing for Turps Banana, Artists & Illustrators and Face magazine, Pye is now the editor of ‘Rebel’ magazine. He has also curated numerous group shows in art spaces around London called "It May Be Rubbish, But “It's British Rubbish", "Too Much Or Not Enough", "Viva Pablo" and "I'm Shy". When he's not painting Harry often works in collaboration with the filmmaker Gordon Beswick and their work has been screened at both Tate Britain and Tate Modern. His work takes a slightly jovial approach to the subject of existence, seemingly lightening the load of the human condition by interrupting our hard-edged thoughts with depictions of lovable next door neighbour dogs pieces (‘Woof One’ & Woof Two) and friend Amechie (‘Eat Up’). At first glance the work might make you laugh with its incongruous nature, but a black comedy evidently underpins the work; Pye says “Someone once said the world is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel”.
Sarah Jeffries lives and works in Eastleigh, Hampshire, and explores narratives through the use of oil painting on (real and faux) log slices. The real log paintings suspend wildly from the walls of the gallery and depict lone women seemingly out on a limb in the wilderness. The work originates from ideas of how the Brother’s Grimm portrayed women in 1812, and also from thoughts of how Alice is portrayed in Tim Burton’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’ in 2010. Compositions are constructed using taken photographic images of the New Forest and found imagery from fashion magazines. This is the first exhibit of the ‘faux log’ paintings, produced out of plywood and rendered to look similar to a log, whilst depicting glitter silhouettes that tenuously co-exist with wild animals in vast open landscapes, thus highlighting a kind of separations from the natural world. Since graduating from a Masters in Painting at the Royal College of Art, Jeffries’ work has been featured in Vogue, the Guardian, the Metro, shown and collected internationally in USA, Italy, Belgium, Germany, UK and has received four solo shows with many inclusions in curated group show in London and the UK.
Annabel Dover explores the fragility of life through our social relationship of nostalgic objects, through the use of painting and sculpture. This is the first exhibit of the ‘Gold Things’ series; the items on display are artifacts cast out of jesmonite, slightly sculpted and covered in burnished 24ct gold leaf. The sculptures all originate from Dover’s experiences of being a child; the ‘Lozenge’ piece is a particularly poignant piece with a reference to the difficulties with bringing life in to the World and really encompasses hope, reminding us how miraculous and magical life is. Since graduating from a MA at Central St Martin’s College in 2002, Dover’s work has received five solo shows, inclusion in many group shows with two shows at the Tate Britain, and her work is also held in public museum collections.
Annabel is currently studying for PhD at Wimbledon School of Art.
Gareth Kemp explores what it means to exist through the construction of elements composed on a canvas. Blurring the line between figuration and abstraction, we see in this show ‘The Drifter’s Escape’ and ‘The Death of Bill Hickok’
which encompass a sense of dislocation and disjointedness, much like a close to reality dream that twists and warps our perceptions. The work originates from various photographic sources; historical family photos, personal holiday snap shots and found images from magazines and newspapers, compositions are arranged using a kind of cut and paste assemblage. Since graduating from a Masters degree at Liverpool University Kemp’s work has been selected for various art Prizes, including The Threadneedle Prize and The Discerning Eye, with work being exhibited and collected in London, Liverpool, Sussex, Manchester and New York.
Jo Wilmot encapsulates peculiar happenings with a subject matter that is slightly at odds with nature through the use of acrylic on canvas. In these most recent paintings animals are depicted in the unnatural world of man made environments. Wilmot’s work derives from a kind of mediation between the found and photographed image and originates from the idea that things in life are far from the perfect and nothing like what see in the media and advertising. The work reminds us that even though we try to control things and create the perfection to fit our expectations, life tends to be much more messy. It seems that perfection is a modern myth and is very rarely achieved. Since graduating from an MA at Goldsmiths Wilmot’s work has been curated in to many group shows in London and the UK, with works collected and shown internationally in USA, Germany, Netherlands and the UK,

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