Two new exhibitions explore, in their very different ways, themes of hidden worlds and seclusion

By Andrew Myers, Roger Hopgood, John Stezaker

In Search of Something at St Mary in the Castle features the work of seven photographers whose work has involved trying to capture and represent something elusive or hidden from view.

Chernobyl by David Gibson

In James Dobson’s Barrow series, ancient burial mounds are located and photographed. These gently contoured hills are easily read as natural features of the landscape but once we become aware of the subject of Dobson’s series, we begin to feel an atmosphere within the work that speaks of endurance and the passing of time.

David Gibson’s Lost Zone – Chernobyl series delivers the kind of dark charm that we associate with contemporary ruin. Places of work and recreation have been brought to a standstill and we ponder the presence of the invisible contaminant that has caused this.

The work of Stella Trench follows the course of a ‘forgotten’ canal in Kent. The Thames and Medway Canal was a failed project from its beginning and, after its closure in 1934, it has descended into a state of ‘invisibility.’

For Raz Talhar, the subject of his work is unnoticeable in a different way. Talhar records the process of land reclamation in Malaysia. The new land, once established, takes on the demeanour of having always been there, its presence absorbed into the existing landscape.

In trying to make sense of the transformation of Bankside Power Station into the Tate Modern, Karin Wach builds collaged constructions that convey the idea of a driving force. This might refer to the machinery that was once housed here, or alternatively to the mechanics of change and development.

Roger Hopgood’s landscape work often features an uneasy relationship between ‘nature’ and technology. In 3G Hinterland, he travels through the Wye Valley searching for dead zones in the cell phone network.

Nicole Talliss’ landscapes have not involved a physical journey. With the appearance of polar exploration, they are in fact small-scale constructions, which Talliss relates to Freud and the unconscious. What we see in the work resembles an iceberg, an object that has often been used to convey the significance and potency of that which lies beneath the surface.

Over in St Leonards at the Electro Studios Project Space, Israel / Holzer offers a rare opportunity to view the work of two reclusive artists whose small scale works explore the unashamedly romantic idea of the artist as ‘exile from life.’ In a sense, both artists have hidden themselves from the world in order to delve into the world of the imagination.

Sasha Holzer has spent most of his adult life working in seclusion, sharing his work with a few dedicated friends and admirers. His carvings seem to transcend time, echoing a half-forgotten buried collective memory. Though abstract, the carvings dwell on the processes of nature which inspired them: vegetative growth, the eddies of wind in meadows, the cresting waves in the sea.

Jo Israel’s photographs and light box exposures combine the images on both sides of the pages of old picture books to create uncanny spectral images. They are X-rays of paper history, revealing imaginary worlds hidden in the pages of bygone travel books. Jo describes her work as ‘journeys of the imagination.’ Like Des Esseintes in Huysman’s À rebours, these are travels to mythic places conducted from the comfort of an armchair.

In Search of Something, St Mary in the Castle, Hastings, 20th to 30th October,
11am to 5pm. Free admission

Israel / Holzer, Electro Studios Project Space, Seaside Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, TN38 0AL

27th/28th October & 3rd/4th November, 11am to 5pm

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