Centrespace Gallery, Bristol.
South West England

The fantastic Pay and Display exhibition is currently on at Centrespace Gallery exhibiting a range of paintings, drawings, sculptures and mixed-media objects.  Each exploring the wide variety of ways in seeing from around 50 artists from across the South West of the U.K..  The show has pieces selected from an open call by international artist Daphne Wright & Beatrice Haines.

The exhibition brings together both professional and early career artists giving a stimulating insight into the work of talented regional artists.  It is curated by Eloise Dunwell & Ruth Piper.

During the private view (and the following day) I was drawn to objects which seemed to explore moving through space.  Journeys and explorations across landscape and the mind through the media of painting practices and other-worldly juxtapositions of found and constructed objects, exploring many different materials including those usually associated with childhood.

Each piece reveals its individuality and its response to the history of art and of those Masters/ Mistresses of Art from the Romantic to the Enlightenment era and onwards towards the Modernist and post-modernist we only know through written records and collected images and objects in museums and galleries – yet one is reminded that there is no such thing as a past, and any past that may have existed before our awareness responds to our present moment in time, re-informed and shifting the lens through which we view the past.

Each piece in this exhibition explores an aspect of the past; revealing the creator and their point-of-view.  Whether responding to an everyday journey, or conscious/ unconscious responses to previous Modernist sensibilities through abstract expressionism, colour theory, surrealism or responding to something previously seen, as in the case with Potato Sarcophagus and its connections to the Sigmar Polke exhibition at the Tate.

Paintings whisper in the shadows, exploring variations of the theme that can be seen in the paintings of Andy Mansfield and Fiona Rae.  Each re-exploring what paint is what it is about and how it can be explored further during these present times of the digital and post-digital realities.

What can not be missed in this wonderful exhibition is the love each artist has for their chosen materials and processes, utilised in portraying investigations and play, revealing something other to an audience that has been drawn away from the HDTV and other Inter-web experiences.  To become entranced in the shamanic practice of the artist who plays with matter and transforms it into new realities and processes, shifting the consciousness of those who view the work and appreciates the power of the hands-on experience and one to one conversations between material, image and mind.

This joy is evident in the way materials are transformed through art and craft: the transformation of wood; juxtapositions of found objects brought together to form new beings; and new ways to think about sculpture that has been placed on a plinth.  Each portrays the importance of play and how various unrelated pieces are brought together into a new forms.  Something will speak of an ‘elsewhere’ revealed from within the deep recesses of the mind.  In-so-doing these pieces reveal something more about the times we are living in.

This era of Brexit and billionaire businessmen becoming Presidents has shaken a system that some thought were built upon solid foundations, and yet, here, through the visual arts I witness a cacophony in ‘ways of seeing’ and varying views from those who spend their time hidden in their studio re-making ideas, thoughts and feelings into something that seeks answers yet become something more than what was intended.

Through all the scrawls, chance happenings, fantasies, flying, video realities, shifting perspectives, and pilgrimages through the landscape – one thing is clear in this exhibition of fantastic, strange, surreal, exotic and investigatory works: the joy of working with the hands, material and process explores what it means to have an opposable thumb in the 21st Century.

Details: Centrespace Gallery, 6 Leonard Lane, Bristol, BS1 1EA | Tel: 0117 929 1234

Hours | Mon-Wed: 11am – 6pm | Fri :11am – 5pm | Sat: 11am – 6pm

Many thanks to sponsors:

  • RISE Consultant Structural Engineers
  • Bristol Fine Art (Art materials)
  • Lee Tunnadine Framers