For many, a period of confinement has presented a sudden abundance of that great rarity: time. In response, we are pleased to present ‘On Time’, our third online-only exhibition of COVID-19, a collection of contemporary artworks that explore different ways that we think about and respond to time.
Guillermo Martin Bermejo presents a group of new drawings in the tradition of the Memento Mori – images intended to make us reflect on the fleeting nature of life. In his work Guillermo references diverse artistic and literary references to create new romantic interpretations on his own experiences. Threaded through these drawings are references ranging from Durer, Velazquez and William Blake, through to Thomas Mann’s ‘Death in Venice’, ‘The Golden Legend’ by Jacob de Voragine, and ‘The Testament of Mary’ by Colm Toibin.
Carolein Smit’s ceramic sculptures bring new life to old archetypes found in myth, religion, and folklore. The sacrificial lamb, the ancient skull fetish, and the loyal hunting hound all dwell so deep in centuries-old stories that their persistence has become timeless, almost immortal. It is Carolein’s peculiar gift to capture not just the enduring resonance of her subjects, but also the sense of how eternal performance and the endless repetition of their roles has rendered them more familiar than frightening.
Liane Lang’s photography looks at statues and monuments and explores cultural legacy as a form of immortality, with a recent focus on statues of women. In her photographs Liane finds ways of transgressing official divides and to make the legendary more personable, often by introducing what look like people in unlikely physical contact with monuments. But her figures are mannequins, themselves ghosts in the image, a more humble form of statue. They echo of our small status in admiration of greatness, and of how lightly most of us will ever touch on history.
Christopher Stevens’s paintings focus on the split second and the lost moment, capturing in painting an image that the naked eye could barely fix. The folding of a swan’s wing in a flash of light, the heave of the sea in the night, and the droop of a bunch of fading flowers: they are all tiny moments in the long accumulation of time as we perceive it, set down in the slow medium of paint. The result is hypnotic, an intense focus on what would normally escape us in an instant.
Gill Button’s paintings are about how images from our past lend emotional definition to our present. Her portraits recreate faces glimpsed in the media to suggest how we remember the imagery around us and make it personal. But such memories are fragile, liable to imperfection, as explored by Gill’s painting ‘We Never Went To Brighton’. It is a composite of images of an old friend now lost, creating an image of trip that never happened, and suggests how time can alter what we think we know in order to reflect how we feel. Factually incorrect – but emotionally true.