But Pictures of Our Thoughts
The Edge group: Conversation
Solaris Gallery, Norman Road, St Leonards on Sea
12th October – 9th November
Review by Andrew Myers
In this age of information overload, it’s understandable that we grasp for quick and easy simplifications of meaning. But how to slow down? How to enjoy the moment? How to achieve that state of mind where different meanings are allowed to co-exist?
The solution offered by the EDGE group of artists – Grace Lau, Roz Cran, Lucinda Wells and Lauris Morgan-Griffiths – is to let the images speak for themselves. Apart from a discreet exhibition catalogue with credits for each work, there wasn’t a single label in sight.
The concept of their Conversation show is brilliantly simple. Over the course of a year, one member takes a photo, sending it to the next member of the group. The next person responds with another image and so on in a cycle. Crucially, no verbal discussion takes place between the artists. The dialogue is purely visual. It’s a conceit which seems perfectly adapted to the internet age.
The result is a thought-provoking and visually stimulating exhibition, containing a kaleidoscopic variety of images encompassing the surreal, abstract, and the ironic.
At the private view, glass of wine in hand and in good company, there was great fun to be had following the ‘trail’ of photos and trying to work out how each image related to the previous one. The viewer was encouraged to think like the artists.
However, there’s perhaps also a risk that this approach to the works could turn into a parlour game. Spotting the connections between photos could distract the viewer from the intrinsic qualities of the images themselves.
To guard against this, the pictures are hung loosely in the order that they were created – but in groups rather than a restrictive line. This allows themes to emerge more holistically – time, light, the sea, reflections. Interestingly, apart from a ghostly silhouette in one picture, there was an almost complete absence of human figures.
The responses in this visual conversation range from the direct to the oblique and mysterious. A number of images are connected by their use of circular forms, or by a shared colour. A haunting image of the sun seen through a foggy sky is countered by a night shot of the moon. A clock becomes an egg. The shape of a bank of cloud, inverted, becomes a rainy country lane. A run of images with a muted palette gives way to a flurry of colour.
By the end of the exhibition, I was starting to get a feel for the individual style of each artist. Like a string quartet, this was a conversation between four distinct voices.
After the excitement of the first night, I returned when the gallery was empty and had quite a different experience. The images offered a new set of possible meanings. There’s no doubt that this absorbing exhibition bears repeated viewing – in fact, I’d love to see it published as a book.
I can’t wait to see where the conversation goes next!
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