The RAW Show at Omega Studios
28th September to 28th October, curated by Tessa Sambrook
Review by Simone Witney

This is a truly extraordinary show; not just for the quality of its diverse objects, but for
the sheer excitement of the subtle relationships generated by the display. Omega Studios specialises in jewellery, ceramics, sculptures, paintings and furniture. It takes an original mind to make this work, to keep it constantly fresh and evolving. This shop is a live, fine art installation.

The current show launches, and was inspired by, Sean Cronin, a sculptor whose shiny, corroded industrial aesthetic may at first glance belie his rich frame of reference: from contemporary architecture, tools, vehicles,  to the Lion Man, the oldest known figurative sculpture, on which Sean’s sensibility confers an iconic, stoic beauty. Luke Bishop, a ceramicist, makes pots which have a look of ancient, earth – crumpled leather vessels, yet also a range of small grogged black stoneware vases, elegant in form,  with mouths delicately ragged and an exquisitely rasping burnt-match surface.

One case holds dazzling crystal candlesticks,  a playfully nutty ceramic owl, a pot whose monkish purity is marked with a deliquescent watermelon stain. Another holds a glass bull in a liquid charge amid joyfully curvaceous acrylic jewellery, then a tiny bronze boat, by Robyn Neild, its rough planks delicately storm wrecked. In Tessa’s vision a broken brick, rusty corrugated iron sheets become things of subtle organic beauty in whose embrace necklaces and brooches bask like coral in a reef. Next to these, Sarah Villeneau’s finned ceramic bowls are like prehistoric bones of shells brought up from their sandy graves.

My personal favourite is the sculpture of Pedro Alves: a small figure of Napoleon, identified by his hat and set upon a half chariot: it has a courageous, quirky minimalism, is laced with gold and verdigris, and textured with feather-light Giacometti chiselling.

The whole multi-layered, multi-textured, show with its diverse palette is reflected in Ken Spooner’s work, whose ceramics, paintings and catalogues reveal a refined, versatile imagination. “ The creative mind plays with the objects it loves” said Jung. The subtle synthesis of Tessa Sambrook’s play makes this RAW show a proof of her equally refined sensibility.

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