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We are pleased to present Trace Elements, an exhibition of artists who reconfigure historical and contemporary references to examine ideas of time and memory: Emily Allchurch, Suzanne Moxhay, Cristiano Di Martino and Jane Ward.
Emily Allchurch’s collages use Old Masters as their templates which are then rebuilt through a contemporary lens. The principal work in this exhibition draws on Bruegel’s Tower of Babel, recreated with images of the perpetual construction site that is London as a property investment haven. In this process, the moral allegory of the original is updated with the modern phenomena: the lifestyle promises of advertising and the unrelenting pursuit of corporate growth are reframed and given new poignancy. Other pieces rework Piranesi’s drawings with architectural images from London, Rome and St Petersburg, examining the repetitive forms taken by imperial ambitions and how they frame shared cultural memory.
Suzanne Moxhay’s works bring together a range of images to create mysterious spaces of uncertain place or age. Combining the faded grandeur of crumbling mansions with strips of graffiti, pastoral landscapes and Roman frescos, the worlds Suzanne manufactures are steeped in subtle inconsistencies: solid walls dissolve into sweeping vistas; rampant nature turns into Romantic gardens; any sense of what is past or present is blurred until it disappears. This sense of impermanence in all things lies at the heart of what makes Suzanne’s works so intriguing, the suggestion that memories and perceptions of the past are magical and unreliable in equal measures.
Cristiano Di Martino’s sculptures suggest how memories of the past can be both vivid and also highly fluid. On the one hand he produces objects hinting at the fungible quality of memory, traditional vessels formed of a molten substance seemingly captured in a state of flux. Other work, based on Napolitan memento mori that are then adorned with floral decoration, has a crystalline precision of something that was precious and fixed in time. In both there is a sense of accumulation and abundance, and of how perceptions of the past are formed: prompted by the familiar, then adorned with personal additions and affections.
Jane Ward’s images of floatings worlds seem to be both forming and disintegrating at once. Her medium is mixed, using both digital collage and ink painting to create effervescent images binding many visions into one. Photographs of buildings and aerial landscape views provide a sense of structure and definition, but are peppered with foliage and fragmented as if by rivulets of water until the illusion of something solid becomes increasingly hard to maintain. Part photographic document, part imagination, like cities with the consistency of clouds, they describe how any momentary perception is uncertain, and how memory can be hard to keep hold of.
Trace Elements opens on Thursday 1 December, 6:30 – 8:30.