Neither Here Nor There
Sian Gledhill & Helen Smith
National Trust Morden Hall Park
Morden SM4 5JD
Thursday 4th – Wednesday 31st July 2013, open daily 11 am – 3 pm
Private View Sat 6th July, 11am – 3pm
Curated by Hannah Lyons & Keiron Phelan
The works presented here by Sian Gledhill and Helen Smith seek to quietly transform an ambient environment by emphasising senses of misalignment and perceptual dislocation, exploring the relationship and tensions between surface and depth.
Ultimately these works are concerned with how we comprehend our environment and in sharpening our perception of the (sometimes opaque) multiplicity of features that we experience.
Cross hatching the concerns of their previous artistic practices through the inherent qualities of the exhibition space and its landscape environs they present a series of pieces that reveal the irregular beauty of a familiar space.
Helen Smith’s Crystal Veil and Trellis are specifically imagined drawings in pen, liquid metal paint and acrylic upon parchment, which highlight the intrinsic aesthetic properties of the apparently unassuming trellised window located high up in the exhibition room, extending its decorative qualities from the mere fabric of the exhibition space into a part of the exhibition itself.
Her videos Echo I and Echo II, screened alternately via a large monitor, constitute a filmic meditation upon liquidity, wherein continued observation of apparently static water surfaces transforms the perception of the viewer from the familiar to the exotic. Light shifts and rainfall upon the imponderable surfaces of the aqua pitch the viewer between two and three-dimensional perspectives, creating a hypnotic and complex uncertainly in the fluidity or solidity of the represented surfaces.
Complimentarily her three part Mirror series, focusing on the visual dynamic between surface tension and depth, offers a consideration upon the intangibility of reflective images and forms a visual bridge between her films and drawings, enabling all three pieces to inter-relate and inter-reference.
Sian Gledhill customarily uses ‘place’ to anchor her work and from that departure creates an exploratory artistic journey. Here her repetitive photographic balloon motifs, deliberately insubstantial and mundane, contrive to project an aggressive superficial tension, simultaneously comical and sinister. Her sharply colour-coded portrait series Local London Places and 16 Coloured Balloons makes humorous play upon the banality of standard ‘quick snap’ photography, rendering the apparent subject into a merely anonymous function of the deliberately bland photographic environment that contains her.
The puncturing of the landscape with a corresponding palette of vivid colour is further developed in the assertive Hold (Bricks) and Hold (Clock), clearly referencing the immediate environs of the Stables themselves and again using dirigible ephemera to stage a re-encounter of the familiar in an unplanned moment of alignment.
The Balloon motifs are granted a partial echo and take their final bow in the tranquil Disturb series, itself creating a complimentary static counter-point to the flux of Smith’s Echo films and continuing the presented theme of inter-relation that establishes unity throughout the exhibition.
Text by Keiron Phelan