The 28th March marked the opening of Sight Specific and the culmination of a month of hard work from the artists and curatorial collective. I really enjoyed working on this exhibition and it was interesting to meet the other artists and see how they had reacted to the space. My favourite piece of work was an untitled piece by Ramona Zoladek whose stacked plaster sculptures with seeds growing in them was inspired by the dereliction of the Orangery and nature’s slow reclamation of the site. I think her piece worked really well with the Orangery columns and complemented its colours and textures.
I was pleased with my pieces although I could have made some more, which would have given me more flexibility to play around with the composition on the day. Initially, I distributed the oranges in and around the raised beds and greenery at the site, though I think they looked a bit lost. I placed some at the base of the columns, which reminded me of renaissance paintings such as Raphael’s School Of Athens (1509-1511) that depict the philosophers and thinkers of antiquity gathered at the steps of a temple or agora. I found it helpful to have the curators position my pieces with the other work. It was beneficial to have a fresh perspective on the work, and relinquishing control was actually quite liberating. The curators scattered the oranges in between the larger sculptures which created an interesting link between pieces and served to guide the eye through the space. The colours worked well with Ellie Power’s video and Kirsty Tinkler’s pink slabs and provided an interesting visual counterpoint to the muted tones of the other work and the architecture.
I think the exhibition was successful however there could have been more emphasis put on publicising the event, as only a few people came. There was also very little to no interaction with the community/ surrounding residents. I think this was a bit of a shame as the Orangery is part of their daily landscape and vice-versa. Art has great social capacity and can help bring people and communities together, so that missing dialogue with the Notre Damn Estate residents was quite noticeable.
Overall it was a positive experience and I enjoyed working with a relatively short deadline and within the constraints of a site specific brief. The lack of time pushed me to start working with materials and experimenting earlier than I usually do, which was really valuable and something I would like to carry on in my studio practice.
Accompanying text for my work in the exhibition:
Eternal Spring (2015) Oranges, expanding foam and acrylic.
The intersection of culture, nature and power is central to my artistic practice. My work for Sight Specific, Eternal Spring (2015), was inspired by the changing architectural, economic and social landscape of Clapham Orangery. The sculptures act as sweetly grotesque imagined relics whose mutable, fleshy forms question ideas of value, preservation and decay. Inspired by Jacob Jordaens’ painting, An Allegory of Fruitfulness (1620-29), which depicts Pomona, the Roman goddess of orchards, gardens and the ripening harvest, Eternal Spring exposes tension between the inevitable process of decay and our desire to control.