There have been four main series of shaped narratives developed over the last four years – Blue and White Shaped Narratives, Coloured Shaped Narratives, Three-Legged Narratives and Small Object Narratives. The works explore and integrate notions around the sense of shapes within shapes, objects within objects and the relationships and hierarchies between the constituent parts.
Port of Entry opened this week at the Sun Pier House Gallery in Chatham, the work on show is produced in response to travels and research around the nature of visual collecting and transcription from sketchbooks, from cultures and communities as diverse as Shenzhen, Guangzhou, London and Chatham. It looks at the nature of the language of man-made objects as symbols, both recognised and remembered or shared, in terms of agreed knowledge and narrative.
These initial observations and memories have been translated into a series of drawings which respond to the nature of visual motifs and metaphors commonly associated with home-spun shared knowledge embedded in the decorative nature of ceramics and textiles.
This has culminated in a series of commissioned cross stitch embroideries working with designer maker Linnet Hannan, transcribing the drawings in to a cotton, cross stitch language associated with both traditions of European samplers and rural embroideries from China.
The work will also be shown in October at the Eagle Gallery in Clerkenwell, London as part of Agency, an exhibition showcasing the work of artists who make up The Artists Agency.
I have a solo exhibition Port of Entry opening on the 9th August until 9th September at Sun Pier House, Chatham, Kent. Preview: Wednesday 8 August 6pm – 8pm
See the Press Release below for more information, written by Mark Segal at the
Artists Agency of which I am a selected artist.
Port of Entry is a range of new drawings, prints and embroidery by Gary Clough exploring architectural space and geographical locations, while challenging notions of the imagined, the remembered and the known. In addition Clough is shaping an individual response to the different cultures engaged within his travels through China and the UK.
The images emerge from the habitual practise of drawing that artists use to explore and process the world around them. These drawings, most often contained within the intimate and private spaces of the sketchbook, happen when no one is looking, a form of practice that keeps the muscles of the hand, eyes and imagination working together, constituting a speculative work of re-imagining.
The sketchbook is an intrinsic part of Gary’s practice, operating as both virtual and literal studio and collective cognitive landscape. The pages demonstrate how ideas are both generated and revisited in a constant process of analysis and reflection. It is driven by an innate playfulness and an ongoing discourse with the nature of the perceived, known and made.The sketchbooks innate mobility is clear in the pages as they document the artist’s journeys, stopping-off points and destinations through geographical, historical and disciplinary visitations and positioning. For the first time, Clough has made new works utilising cross stitch approaches, borrowing from its tradition as a homespun practice for documenting personalised interpretations of the world and mirroring his use of the sketch book as a starting point for assimilating the made environment. The work plays with the notion and challenges of the transformation into motif associated with this craft tradition, combined with the blue and white palette associated with rural Chinese embroideries.
The work in Port of Entry engages further with the notion of a shared entry or starting point in the development of a repository, or archive of a highly personal genus of objects arranged and presented as sets, families and suites of images. The genealogy and heritage of the images draw from influences as broad as the pages of the Argos catalogue and the shelves of B&Q and Pound Land, to the Song and Tang dynasty blue and white Chinese ceramics, to the cotton indigo embroideries of 18th century rural China. Clough has focused on developing contemporary notions of patterns and symbols as visual metaphor, intrinsic to global traditions of shared and/or remembered narrative histories within the creative industries and its cultural currency. The work attempts to investigate further contemporary notions of and relevance to the use of visual metaphors, motifs and symbols generated in the traditions of the decorative object essential to the sharing and evolving of shared visual language over generations through mnemonic and cultural exchange and interaction.
The work displayed in Chatham allow Clough to develop new drawings and new ways of working in the context of the architectural spaces and this geographical locations. The project’s location in Chatham is essential as it directly engages with its position as a key cultural gateway and interface historically, for the UK which draws from an existing community who share the cultural heritage of the images, mark making, pattern and colour of the work. Chatham’s historical positioning as a key military and commercial port and literary and narrative heritage is a conscious influence and reference for the artist’s 20 year association with the location and communities. The exhibition also enables the engagement with the broader community of Chatham through national and international connections through the Universities and Education sector, supported by an artist talk and lecture.
The images below are from the recent showing of Trace Engines and new work at the Brewery Tap UCA Project Space http://www.brewerytapprojectspace.com held between 29/09/17 and 03/10/17, at part of the Folkestone Fringe.
It was a fantastic space to work in and a pleasure working with the curator Georgie Scott and Terry Perk from UCA and being part of the incredibly vibrant atmosphere of the Folkestone Triennial .
Over the four days there were over 270 visitors, including a group of students and staff from UCA Rochester Foundation programme, also a well known local canine art connoisseur who made an apearance at the private view.
I had a really fantastic four days invidulating the exhibition, a great opportunity to meet, local, national and international visitors to the Folkestone Triennial and to develop new work in the sketchbook……….watch this space.
I will be showing the Trace Engines project as part of the Folkestone Fringe, at the Brewery Tap – UCA Project Space, from the 30/09/19 – 03/10/17.
Trace Engines is a body of work produced through UCA research funding, in collaboration with AIP Gallery, Guangzhou, China. The work was previously exhibited at Rochester Art Gallery, November 2016 – February 2017.
I will also be exhibiting a series of new drawings entitled Shaped Narratives. The Private View will be on the 29th September, from 6pm – 8pm, all are welcome. 53 Tontine Street, Folkestone, CT20 1JR.
I will be invigilating the exhibition and of course working in my sketchbook between the 30/09/17 – 03/10/17.
The Brewery Tap – UCA Project Space is a research hub, exhibition and project space run by the MA Fine Art and MA Curatorial Practice courses at the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury.
I am delighted to have been asked to contribute to this project and the broader Folkestone creative quarter and community and the Folkestone Triennial.
Off to Shenzhen China today, for a week visiting with colleagues in Fun Drawing, taking part in a series of development sessions and demonstration classes.
As ever, I will be drawing and developing ideas in sketchbooks, 12 hour flights are always productive. China Blue seems appropriate.
Below is a snap shot of current work developing further approaches to the ‘Penny Dreadful’ object/narrative idea, engaging with shaped narratives and applied structure.
“Penny Dreadful is a pejorative term used to refer to cheap popular serial literature produced during the nineteenth century in the United Kingdom. The term is roughly interchangeable with penny horrible, penny awful, and penny blood”.
The current work draws together from the sketchbook new works on paper: a range of both known and familiar objects arranged in a comic strip like format. The images are brought together into a grid, the objects connecting with one another forming potential narratives. The medium of ink, coffee and highlighters gives a saccharine prefabricated kit, or formulaic quality, akin to the nature of mass produced literature like the Penny Dreadful.
This work will be exhibited as part of the South East Open Studios: 15th June – 18th June & 22nd June – 25th June 2017: at the Hazelnut Press, 1 Ridley Road, Rochester, ME1 1UL.
Sketchbooks are an intrinsic and integral part of my practice, a place where I collate, record and synthesize viewed and remembered experiences.
I am currently obsessed with comic book like hieroglyphs, in search of or potentially reliant on a visual equivalent to the Rosetta Stone, combining the recognized, the invented and the possible. These draw from a range of real and imagined destinations and cultural references, many from regular visits to China.
The first UK exhibition of the Trace Engines project, which included a solo exhibition of drawings and mono prints at the AIP Gallery, Redtory Art Zone, Guangzhou in 2015, opens on the 25th November 2016 at the Rochester Art Gallery, Kent.
The private view is on the 24th November from 6:30pm and there will also be a series of workshops and artist’s talks that accompany the exhibition. This current show, from 24.11.16 to 20.02.17, brings together new work and pieces produced during my residency in China.
‘Trace Engines is a series of amalgamated drawings that on the one hand suggest a design or plan for something to come, and on the other seem like the residue of something that has already been. In this, they constitute a process of mediation where the acts and media of their creation – the drawing, tracing and mono printing – become iterative expressions that model an as yet unknown object.’