Monday, October 08, 2007

Blanc Noir

Sarah Doyle, Sophie MacCorquodale, Cathy Lomax,
Stephen Davids, Lydia Maria Julien, Gary O'Connor

13 Oct - 18 Nov 2007
Private View Friday 12 Oct 6-9pm
gallery opening hours Fri - Sun 12-6pm

Transition Gallery
Unit 25a Regent Studios
8 Andrews Road
London E8 4QN

Blanc Noir was devised by artists Stephen Davids and Cathy Lomax to investigate the significant contribution that the Afro-Caribbean diaspora has made to contemporary British culture. It examines the way that in Britain this culture, rather than being seen as an exotic enclave of otherness is becoming intrinsically meshed within the mainstream.

Blanc Noir features a mixed group of artists who map this process in a counter-intuitive and highly personal way by both overturning and celebrating stereotypes from Sarah Doyle's MySpace girls with hiphop monikers to Cathy Lomax's Afro paintings to Gary O'Connor's Rock Against Racism inspired audio.

Background to Blanc Noir
Hackney in the East End of London is on the front line of an effusive multi-racial mix. It is here that you will find a fusion of cultural energy that is stemmed in a strong black identity born from its well-established black population. As far back as the 1700s the East End has had a tradition of black and white living in harmony, bound together by poverty and outsiderness. This still holds true in today's East End where you find both black and white school kids cherry picking phrases and points of style from black originating music, fashion and patois.

See more images from the Blanc Noir show here on Flickr

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Crossley Gallery, Dean Clough, Halifax
22 September 2007 – 21 January 2008
PV: - Saturday 22 September 12-3pm

Edwin Aitken
Matthew Burrows
Simon Burton
Sarah Doyle
Steve Dutton/Steve Swindells
David Hancock
Thomas Helyar-Carwell
Cathy Ward
Isabel Young

When presenting an exhibition on the theme of faith, as an artist one has to consider what one believes in. Do we believe in the power of the representations of faith in art that have held us enthralled over centuries or is it the power of faith itself that draws an artist to make work? The 10 artists included in this exhibition all question the notions of faith and explore the theme in very different ways.

Some of the artists explore faith in terms of its relevance to the History of Art. Their work may reference a particular religious painting, symbol or object. Thomas Helyar-Cardwell considers how in a society that is increasingly losing its faith, what do these arcane signifiers become when confused or forgotten. These objects gain a new role in his paintings and banners, transforming these symbols into fresh iconography. Similarly David Hancock subverts masterpieces of religious art to make comments upon contemporary society. By working within the tradition of painting he manipulates this loaded genre continuing the discourse on painting’s role within contemporary art. Simon Burton’s paintings are drawn from the pomp and ceremony of war that suggest the idea of a religious crusade. These works draw parallels to past and present conflict and well as include signifiers drawn from art history. Burton depicts a bewildered landscape of ruin where the decimated aftermath of a confliction of abstraction and figuration is expressed through his multi-layered surface. Isabel Young‘s paintings seek to question the traditional hierarchy of the animal kingdom with man at the pinnacle. She re-works this classification through the tradition of icon painting, placing animals in the role of a deity. The use of iridescent paint transmits this ethos by referencing the precious materials used in icon painting, and subsequently notions of importance, power, and status.

Other artists have chosen to discuss what we believe in today. Matthew Burrows’ paintings explore what it means to believe, and in what context it is possible. He unpicks our expectation of science by developing a mythic view of evolution. Through this upended and regressive world Burrows highlights our assumptions that reason has the monopoly on truth and satirises the views of creationists. Edwin Aitken’s paintings attempt to uncover an essential meaning or truth. Through his work he seeks a ‘burden of proof’ that will inevitably validate his own personal faith in painting as a means to express ideas that have an ongoing relevance. In contrast Cathy Ward's installations centre on a childhood incident that contributed in her subsequent loss of faith. Her contribution will be revisiting her departure, both as a reconstruction, and reviewing its many manifestations in her work. For Dutton and Swindells the matter of faith offers the opportunity to make work out of a number of positions simultaneously whilst still believing in all of them. Their videos and wall drawings reference William Friedkin's "The Exorcist" by paying particular attention to the use of inversion and reversal to denote evil. This collaging of disparate elements generates new dialogues for making art. Sarah Doyle consider the roles of contemporary icons and whether they supplant the religious deities of the past. As we desperately try to retain some kind of faith by attaching it to our own heroes, we build our own identity around these superstars who inspire us. The fervour with which we aspire to these role models could also be considered religious, as in Doyle’s work, where she focuses specifically on the phenomenon that is Prince.

Each artist has tackled this theme in a unique and original way and the exhibition hopes to highlight the diversity of current contemporary practise.