- The Collection
- East Midlands
Punctuated3 is an exhibition by students from the University of Lincoln’s MA Fine Art programme – a kind of test run for their upcoming final show and a crucial opportunity to extend their professional practice within the confines of city’s primary exhibition venue, The Collection.
The exhibition framework has randomly allocated its thirteen artists an area of physical space in which to display one work, ranging from the miniscule 17mm3 to the rather larger 2470mm3. The idea is that the works presented need only reach these dimensions – there is no other prescribed parameter for the content or form of the works, which are displayed in ascending size within the gallery. Speaking with the student body about their experience of making and displaying their work, this restrictive format, utilised in order to unify and cohere a disparate selection of practices, has clearly been relished by some of the artists involved, using it to extend strengths in their existing practice or as a new boundary against which to push.
Several works stand out in particular for their quality of production and considered conceptual approach. Hannah McKinlay, a painter and draughtsperson of some skill, has for this exhibition produced an exquisite sculpture – the exhibition’s smallest piece 17mm3 (Silence is Golden). Made from silver plated with 9 carat gold and positioned under an antique glass dome, the piece is immediately marked out from the line-up of works as precious. It is a gnarled, twisting form that recalls a small rock formation though its origin is quite different. The sculpture is a visualisation of the word ‘silence’, made by the artist while speaking through a mouthful of smoke, photographing its form and then sculpting and casting it into a solid three-dimensional object. It recalls Francesca Woodman’s gelatin silver print Self Portrait Talking to Vince (1980). Both translate the temporal and emotional qualities of speech into a form that at once beckons and denies touch. That McKinlay has experienced profound hearing loss makes the tiny sculpture all the more evocative – it arises from a highly personal and urgent place.
James Woolley’s work, meanwhile, falls into the middle of the exhibition’s sliding size scale and is formed from terracotta clay that he has “worked, massaged and embodied”, using this form to cast a negative impression in concrete. Made by working the clay for the number of seconds that correspond to his given spatial dimension, the result is a highly tactile sculpture that can be peered into and poked. Traces of the artist’s hands and tools are clearly evident inside the block, and small forms reminiscent of a spiny sea creature or human digestive systems are visible through holes that reveal the sculpture’s interior. The work is made in conscious dialogue with the history of modernist sculpture in all its experimentation, earnestness and consideration of labour and gender, and offers a real strength of output. Woolley’s enthusiasm for making, for materials, process and for his research journey is palpable not only in speaking to him but visible also in his work.
The exhibition includes Michelle Forrest-Beckett’s painstaking miniature reconstruction of Michelangelo Pistoletto’s 1m3 sculpture Metrocubo d’infinito (Cubic Metre of Infinity) (1966), made using mirrored tiles of 26mm3 and dentistry elastic bands. She describes making the work as a process of “getting to know the [Pistoletto’s] work on its own terms”. A piece by Nathan Newton is also on display. That he has been selected for this year’s iteration of New Contemporaries is highly encouraging for his cohort, tutors and for the development of his own practice.
As with many non-thematic group exhibitions, the display is difficult, if not impossible, to read as a whole. It is evident that some of the artists have found this format and the context of a gallery presentation liberating and fruitful while others have found it much more challenging. Ultimately, what the reductive curatorial structure provides, however, is an opportunity for those with strong ideas to pare these back and to allow a single, refined work to speak professionally and eloquently for their practice.
Artists: Henry Allen / Louise Chalmers / Alexandria Frances Clow / Jacob Denness / Michelle Forrest-Beckett / Christopher Kane / Charlie Leffler / Yuen Shan Ling / Hannah McKinlay / Nathan Newton / Orinta Pranaityte / Kezia-Marie Wattle/ James Woolley