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Landscapes to a Blind Man's Eye

Alex Meurice

"Landscapes to a Blind Man's Eye", Exhibition leaflet, Slate Projects
March 2014
 

These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration

– William Wordsworth, ‘Tintern Abbey’, 1798 [lines 22-30]
 

   

Slate Projects is pleased to present 'Landscape to a Blind Man's Eye', a group exhibition for the Affordable Art Fair's Project Space Collective. The exhibition presents the work of Gareth Berwyn, Tamsin Relly, Alan Rankle and Kirsten Reynolds. Each artist takes photography as their point of origin. The photographic image is broken down and recomposed through various processes, notably painting and printmaking, in a vigorous attempt to reintroduce the hand of the artist. We propose that these interventions open a space for the artists’ and viewers’ imaginations, which tend to be excluded by photography’s mechanical eye. Such manipulation and transformation of images is especially appropriate for landscapes and scenes of ecological disaster, images which demand a more substantial, a stronger visual support than a mere photograph.
 

   

Gareth Berwyn’s beautiful, jewel-like works are initially laser-cut from plywood sheets like a jigsaw, as if to prepare a woodblock for printing in several colours. Each piece is worked on with complex traditional finishes, including water gilding, reverse gilding on Perspex, lacquering and glazing with pigments made from semi-precious stones. The final image emerges when the pieces are re-assembled together. These images are scanned from discarded newspapers; typically of landscapes and scenes of disaster. We are confronted with an attempt to give substance to memories of the sublime which tend to slip through the net of photography, especially the photography published in daily newspapers.
 

   

The confrontation between nature and technology also animates Tamsin Relly’s work, both in her painting and printmaking. Drawing from snapshots of day-to-day life, nature and images found in the media, Relly will reduce her selection to the few images which have lasting subconscious impact. She then paints and repaints the image without referring further to the photograph, leaving only the most emotionally salient elements in the final composition. Working with very fluid and unpredictable paint, Relly presents impressions of urban and natural environments in states of uncertainty or degeneration, echoing her ecological concerns. The instability of the paint literally embodies the instability of a nature which cannot be reconciled with modern technological systems.
 

   

Rankle & Reynolds is a collaboration between Alan Rankle and Kirsten Reynolds, launched in 2008. Rankle is an established landscape painter, and Reynolds is a photographer known for her long-exposure ‘light drawings’. Rankle & Reynolds’ ‘On the Edge of Wrong’ is a series of paintings and prints developed from themes in Reynold's seminal series of light drawing photographs. From this point of origin, the pair simultaneously paint the image in a performative duo, their noticeably different brush-strokes (Reynolds often drips the lines of paint) coexisting uneasily on the canvas as they attempt to fix meaning in the flux of the natural world and its possible representations. In his own painting, Alan Rankle takes as his main subject the development of landscape art as a concept related to changes in attitude to the environment, an ongoing project since the 1970s.

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