Rhythm, Ritual, Rite Of Passage
Richard Makin reviews otolithography by Rebecca Ainscough
St Mary In The Castle, Hastings: 17 May to 16 August
Rhythm, Ritual, Rite Of Passage is a collection of mixed-media works channelled by the artist from sounds encountered across the globe at specific locations, including sites in Italy, Yemen, Turkey, India and West Africa – visual manifestations of listening: an Angelus bell, the temple chant, a call to prayer, ambient voice, the drum. Central to Rebecca Ainscough’s work is the role of sonic patterns in language and music, belief systems and ritual. Glyphs and letters are set into fields of sumptuous colour, sound, its tempo, stress, accent and pulse, made visible. While recognisable words emerge in places, other strokes suggest runic signs or the cursive forms of an undiscovered alphabet. Pigments range from dense opacity to washes of invisible glaze: agencies of intuition and impulse.
Some works appear to have emerged by natural process, a slow coalescence: stains of colour and strokes forming a composite whole by gradual accumulation. Smaller pieces suggest the found pages of discarded books, retrieved and augmented by the artist; others, the surfaces of ancient pitted walls. The foundation of Rebecca’s work is the interplay of colour and glyph, clusters of detail that convey associations and after-image. Her project is immediate, a venture unplanned.
Listening Sketchbooks are strung out across shelves, the topmost with a seismic score running across its pages. The book listens; the artist here is a medium, attuned to the cadences of the surrounding environment.
Sound Maps is a sequence of small pieces boxed in under glass – text, found objects, fluid media – overlaid strata of marks and shifts of tenor. The locations mapped include Newcastle, Valencia, Lyme Regis, Oludeniz, Barcelona, Sussex, Yemen and Somerset.
Places may be conceived as archives of sound, embedded in the structures and objects that surround us, and which in certain states we may detect as they register a vibration or shiver. Rebecca converts these impressions to volume, colour and line in motion – marks that remain beyond interpretation, constructively purposeless. It is this paradox that infuses these works with tension.
Listening. Sacre Monte Orta San Guilio includes a sequence of four pieces whose catalyst is Gregorian chant and prayer –musical notation tracing signs that, despite their alien mode, convey something unutterable that is retained by the viewer. This setting of marks in presumed random arrangements may not be random at all; rather, they have been transmitted via a structured plexus from which the artist has drawn down a glimpse.
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