City Art Centre, Edinburgh have a current exhibition curated by printmaker Angie Lewin and Lizzie Farey (willow weaver) who invited ceramicist Frances Priest and artist/printmaker Bronwen Sleigh to exhibit also. (The exhibition runs until 18th February).
It was an absolute pleasure to be with them yesterday, at their “In Conversation” discussion, chaired by Amanda Game (independent curator and producer), and to hear them speaking about the process of making art and an exhibition together. The talk was facilitated with warmth by curator Maeve Toal.
The exhibition took 3 to 4 years to put together but was a really pleasant collaboration. The generous size of the exhibition space was a bonus, encouraging all the artists to work on a larger scale than usual. They also agreed on the process of pattern as important to their work, although they work in very different disciplines. There were also surprising associations, such as the ceramics tiles by Frances, likely to be used on a wall – and the architectural drawings by Bronwen.
Exhibiting in a Gallery Space
The ceramicist, Frances Priest, found it rather unusual and uncomfortable to consider exhibiting her tactile work in a white space, safely. However, she did say:
“it was quite pleasurable to do that in relation to working with three other artists so it’s not just a solo show, it’s working with people – you’re bouncing ideas off one another. And yet the work that I made for the gallery is very much about the audience and about how people might interact with the objects that I’ve made – so that always sets up a tension and it’s difficult.”
Frances Priest’s work
(When you view the exhibition, Frances’ work pulls you over and attracts closer enquiry. I found myself starting forward instinctively, and encountering the discrete tug of cording around knee level, to keep the public at arm’s length.)
For Angie Lewin, who makes prints on paper and material, it was much more a natural part of the process of artmaking to put work on walls for people to see it and discuss. She described the gallery as a point between making the art, showing it to others and then having others buy the work and take it home, to be part of their own domestic setting. She gave a wonderful account of how she decided to go to art college – on the day she randomly visited Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge while her brother was getting moved into Uni nearby.
(Kettle’s Yard is the home of a former curator, who mixed Modernist artists with natural objects like pebbles and shells, together with the best of contemporary furniture. Although very much a family home, it was opened to the public in Cambridge, England. It’s on my to-see list, for sure.)
“Saltmarsh Storm” linocut by Angie Lewin
Lizzie Farey found the gallery exhibition prompting her to move from 3D willow weaving to 2D, more like pictures – also ‘bigging up’ the design because of the generous gallery dimensions.
Bronwen Sleigh has always been drawn to urban architectural drawings and Russian Constructivist art. “I think that’s partly because the history of that time is so crazy – but also this exciting time for harnessing new technology and using them as a way to create new artwork – which actually over the years is what printmakers have done.”
Bronwen is a multi-disciplinary artist, including printmaking in her practice.
Gallery as Layering Exhibitions
One of the particularly interesting and warm observations on the City Art Centre came from the Q&A at the “In Conversation”. Jo Barker, a tapestry maker, who commented on the fact that the Centre has several floors of galleries, and the exhibitions on each floor layer and flow with each other in an exciting way which encourages questions in the visitor.
“When I go to London to the photographers’ gallery it’s the same: you progress from the ground floor upwards, you go through all these brilliant galleries with thoughtful different types of photography – the City Art Centre is maybe the first one since – and I say “well done” for responding to the artists to bring us together”.
After the discussion, the artists moved to the exhibition, together with the audience, to look and chat, absorbedly.
Find out more
There is a dedicated website for this exhibition here.
If you click on the links below, you can find out more about the separate artists on their websites:
The exhibition “A Fine Line” continues at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh, until Sunday 18th February 2018. Attendance is free. Currently, the building is indeed layered with a great mix of exhibitions: from the basement level of “Hidden Gems” (less well-known fine art items from the permanent collection), a floor of architectural plans for Edinburgh by the key architect city architect Playfair, then “Songs for Winter” (Pauline Burbridge and Charles Poulsen) geometric drawings and phenomenal quilts with details of the land art in their garden – and finally “A Fine Line” itself.
After mid-February, the exhibition will tour to two other locations in Scotland:
Touring to: Inverness Museum & Art Gallery
3rd March – 12th May, 2018
and Gracefield Art Centre, Dumfries
19th May – 7th July, 2018