Tropical leaves sprout from the gallery walls, allowing Hannah Kidd’s birds to perch and fly through a profusion of greenery. The foliage possesses a sense of vigorous, lush growth - qualities not normally expected from flattened roofing iron. Their presence is testament to Kidd’s consummate ability to conceptualise and recreate the dynamism of natural forms using an inorganic material. The subtle turn of an angled feather mid-flight or the cock of a head animate the birds and capture the essence of their characters.
The elegant feathers seen in Bridie Henderson’s new necklaces provide a counterpoint to the liveliness of Kidd’s sculptures. The hand-crafted procelain works speak of humankind’s historical (and contemporary) use of natural materials for adornment or trade, to mark status or to be revered as ritual and magic objects. There exists a tension between the talismanic potential of Henderson’s necklaces and their presentation as modern-day artefacts, removed from their original context and possessing only a muted whispering of transformative power.
Transformation is a key quality seen in the works of John Parker and Ben Pearce. To create his Volcanic vessels, John Parker uses glazes that react chemically to form pitted and cratered surfaces, which disrupt physically and visually the clean outlines of his forms. This is highlighted by their juxtaposition with the smooth planes and symmetries of his spotted cylinders and grooved orbs. Likewise, the bronze and corten steel works of Ben Pearce explore the ways in which texture, form and medium interact. The textured bronze of For Verne (2017) is highly polished and refractive and, as with the Volcanic ceramics, the carved indentations are integral to the shape of the rod rather than surface decoration.
Pearce’s large sculptures play with scale; K 2 features a brutalist base of corten steel topped with two small bronze cubes. Despite the mass of the steel, the prominence accorded the bronze elements affords them a dense, weighty presence that seems more than the sum of their volume. The work challenges traditional conventions of proportion and requires us to consider more closely how and why the seemingly disparate elements relate to one another.
The density of Mike Crawford’s cast glass pieces is especially noted in his black Kumete (2017). First and foremost we notice the way Kumete displaces space, whereas it is the colour and effect of light which is most immediate in his coloured forms. The matt opacity of the black glass means that the viewer focuses on the volume and shape of the work.
Jeffery Harris’ nude paintings are also studies in line, volume, and form. The bodies are assemblages of sculptural planes, which Harris emphasies with strong outlines and stark shadowing. Against a blood red background, alabaster limbs and torsos appear carved and smoothed to reveal underlying geometries. Faces are distilled to the bare essence of form and in Nude 6 a triangular sweep of hair falls across an oval devoid of facial features.
Equally bold in his mark-making, Nigel Brown has used pointillist backgrounds as a framing device for his narrative paintings. Against this he sets frames of text and these work together with Brown’s symbols and motifs to create strong associative links not only within each painting but also between the individual works. The artist examines how humankind operates as an organism within a larger ecosystem and questions if we are truly aware of how our existence affects the environment which supports us – and everything else on the planet.