future imaginings of place, ecologies and culture
17 artists respond to the theme in an exciting multi-disciplinary exhibition at Thames-Side Studios Gallery, Harrington Way, London, SE18 5NR
Opening event: 31.01.20 6-9pm
Exhibition dates: 1 – 16 February 2020
Gallery Opening hours: Thursday to Sunday 12 – 5 pm
Exhibiting artists: Fran Burden | Clare Burnett | Alison Cooke
Richard Ducker | Elaborate Kingdom | Deborah Gardner
Oona Grimes | Sula Hancock | Nicky Hodge | Melanie King
Sarah Kogan | Jo Lawrence | Jane Millar | Stephen Nelson
Freddie Robins | Sarah Sparkes | Virginia Verran
Curated by Jane Millar
‘In a sense, if you’re not getting it wrong really a lot when you’re creating imaginary futures, then you’re just not doing it enough. You’re not creating enough imaginary futures.’ William Gibson
Image: Richard Ducker, still from URGENT: SLEEP BETTER
New Doggerland is a new multi-disciplinary artists project for a future imagining of physical and cultural re-connection between Britain and the European mainland. Doggerland is the name given to the ancient landmass, now submerged, that once connected Britain to Northern Europe. What if a new land mass rises up and we become physically part of the mainland again?
New Doggerland is a project about future land and humans. It asks questions to which the exhibitors and participants respond with different ideas and answers. Who will be living there and how? It may evoke a Ballardian dystopia, or ideas of possible Utopia. Or could New Doggerland be the heterotopia where we go to experience ‘other’ selves, a place of becoming?
About the artwork: featured works include film, textiles, painting, sculpture, ceramics and installation. Details of featured artists’ works:
Borne from the bogs of the lowland heath that extend from East Anglia into New Doggerland, an ancient amphibian girl with an inverted digestive system. A girl that gave herself to the watery land and became a god. Realised in rubber by The Elaborate Kingdom.
Frances Burden’s stitched pieces and works on paper range from the uniformity of Orwell and Huxley to the wild Egyptian glamour of Earth Wind and Fire, to explore the common cultural themes of a future imagining about the look of dress and costume. Her pieces here are a sample selection for the everyday and the ceremonial.
Virginia Verran’s paintings and drawings suggest multiple perspectives, from body to land; vestigial remains in deep space, aerial scanning and surveillance, virtual mappings that show the tracing of action and process; a personal world of invented motifs and symbols suggestive of flags, tiny bombs, rooftops, ladders, outlying islands, with lines and motifs that track back and forth between nodes.
Oona Grimes’ chorus of bird heads fuses bird and clown, Neorealism and Etruscan. The avian profile of the Italian comic actor, Toto, is discernible in many of these unhinged puppet-like heads – trickster and sub-proletariat Neapolitan. Like her drawings of snotty children, faces pinched and frozen, these bird heads ooze emotion from cartilage, beak and glassy eye. “…all archaic mythological figures and events are available as a thesaurus of glyphs or token symbols” (Ted Hughes, Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being).
Freddie Robins’s piece, All the same, is produced using automated, digital, knitting technology. A technology developed to achieve perfect repetition, removing all human touch from industrial production. Why is this desirable? Why do we want everything to be the same? Why can’t we accept different as equal? This work continues Robins’s questioning of conformity and her resistance to notions of ‘normality’.
Nicky Hodge’s cluster of minimal abstract paintings has a bareness around the edges and a focus on the margins and boundaries. Indicative of an indeterminate process, the work reveals something about a sense of becoming as a response to an uncertain future.
Sculptor Deborah Gardner considers future shifting plant environments from the local to the alien and imaginary plants in space, partly inspired by recent images of NASA’s experiments with growing plants on space craft and visions of extra-terrestrial colonisation.
Sarah Kogan’s paintings revolve around ideas of landscape, abstraction & memory. In her imagined resurgence of New Doggerland, she evokes memories of forgotten lands, like an amputated limb that has re-grown. Its’ physical manifestation symbolises a newly extended version of ourselves and our relationship to feelings of absence and loss.
Jane Millar’s ceramic sculpture envisions a future crisis of teaching lost knowledge. Her wall-based ‘test beds’, guessed-at planets, and a Werkbund type traveller’s teaching and display case triggers unrecovered memories and soothes feelings of loss.
Artist Sarah Sparkes work ‘Heroes and Villains’ is drawn from both archaeological and science fiction mythologies. She has imagined her work for New Doggerland as a manifestations from the sentient ocean in Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris – a Post-Anthropocene dream of hunter-gatherers.
Jo Lawrence re-imagines rejected rubbish as precious archaeological finds of the Anthropocene. The imagined formation of New Doggerland from accumulated waste washed up in the North Sea gives rise to a future culture inspired by the visual overload of plastic detritus. Carried during processions ‘marottes’ (heads on sticks with articulated mouths) are used to disseminate news and ideas through song.
British artist Stephen Nelson makes strange and highly personable objects and constructions, often playfully domestic and comedic, using a wide variety of salvaged materials selected for their colour, texture and character. Working with anything from sea worn plastic toys, clay pipes, wire, painted drift wood to cloth, carpet and leather. “Nelson’s sculptures have an improvised and makeshift attitude, forming part of a curious world of ‘possible objects’ which defy critical context by reaching out through their physicality.” Paul Hobson
Richard Ducker’s film ‘URGENT: SLEEP BETTER’ evokes a sense of paranoiac dislocation and loss. Part filmed on an iPhone, and part found footage, it forms a tone poem to establish a montage of emotional disconnect. The film’s psychological relationship to the topography of landscape articulates, often through counterpoint, the emotionally driven narrative.
Alison Cooke’s work includes a fragment of sediment core from 3m below the North Sea bed, and ceramics made of clay collected from the edges of Doggerland’s UK and European borders. An ongoing project, her work here examines future remnants of the human race.
With thanks to the research team behind Europe’s Lost Frontiers.
Sula Hancock’s detailed installation takes a playful look at how geographical environments and life forms influence each other, paying particular attention to the cultures that might develop when the life forms, whilst as intelligent as humans, are not concerned with the ‘I want more’ and ‘this is mine’ mentalities.
Melanie King’s anthotypes show the B46 iceberg which has detached from the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica – a clear indicator of global warming. The anthotype is a photographic print using plant matter to create an image, which will slowly fade with time, mirroring the fragility of our environment.
Clare Burnett takes the wheel as a symbol of past and future development, a fossil of the past and hope for the future as a new Doggerland emerges. She scavenges lost wheels that steered boats across the North Sea and transforms them into absurd yet functional objects.
Thames-Side Studios Gallery (Unit 4) is one of South London’s largest single exhibition spaces with a 2,600 square-foot gallery space. We run a programme of exhibitions featuring artists based on site and elsewhere. Thames-Side Studios is a provider of affordable studio spaces for artists, makers and designers.
For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org How to find us: Bicycle: Thames River cycle path (16 mins cycle from Greenwich). Bus: 161 / 177 / 180 / 472 to Warspite Road bus stop. DLR: Woolwich Arsenal (1 minute walk to Plumstead Road and take Route Bus 177 towards Peckham Bus Station or 472 towards North Greenwich Station). Road: A2 corridor, first roundabout east of Thames Barrier onto Warspite Road. Train: From Cannon Street or London Bridge to Woolwich Dockyard (8 minute walk)or Charlton (12 minute walk). Tube: North Greenwich (Take the Route Bus 472 towards Thamesmead Town Centre).