Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
9 September 2007
Reviewed by: Helen Thompstone »
Penlanole Farm near Llandrindod Wells hosts an exhibition by Georgina Barney. A high beamed barn houses the work, which as a culmination of the project ‘Great British Farming' provides a suitably peaceful setting in which to digest the information, ideas and outcomes of Barney's 8 month long project.
Fourteen residencies on different farms throughout Great Britain are represented in the exhibition. A rising tier of hay bales fills half of the space, creating a steep wall that is tempting to climb; this idea is curtailed however on glancing at the long line of folders which occupy the lowest row of bales. Containing written and visual records of the Artists' time on the contrasting farms, the folders harbour crucial details. The accounts are absorbing, distracting from any thoughts of haystack climbing and the cold welsh afternoon.
Opposite this arrangement is a serene installation. Fourteen postcards shake in the draught of the barn, again representing the different points of the journey. Suspended by thread disappearing into piles of loose hay the artists visits are condensed to picture postcards, a contrast to the lengthier recording represented by the travel journals.
Following the online blog throughout the project Barneys writing has been crucial to understanding the differences between farming practices encountered. Clearly influenced by travel writing Barney's records retain a strong personal quality whilst asking bigger questions of both farming and the artist.
From material appearing on the website it is clear that the collection of visual data has also been important to the exploration. That few physical remnants from the visited farms appear in the exhibition feels a little surprising. Photographs however record the artists play with materials, visual connections which seem to belong to the place they were created and a particular moment in the journey. The works reproduced on the postcards feel in keeping with the gesture of a tourist, images picked up in an unfamiliar place, recorded and remembered but not entirely carried home.
That the project is gathered together and finds its end point within a farm environment seems only right, the setting reflecting a sense of isolation often apparent throughout the artist's travels. Although it feels as if it is the artist's words which most endure, the project has produced many memorable images. A work incorporating a blue veined Stilton cheese, produced on one of the farms, particularly seems to sum up Barney's exploration. Seeming to melt into the map on which it is placed, the roads and rivers, running through this carefully manufactured product, display the convergence of the art of the journey and the farm.
A Staffordshire based visual artist
Llandrindod Wells , Powys, Wales
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