Tuesday, July 20, 2010

''Natural Abstractions'' (A celebration of the natural world in wood and ceramic)

Win Norton

On initially encountering the work of Win Norton, there is a lot to be said for how powerfully unique each piece is. As part of an exhibition, the work in general is similar in style and conception, but the individual significance of each crafted piece comes in the story, the title, the visualisation of the whole and the sum of its parts.

The dichotomy, even ‘conundrum’, that is presented by a work of art and the title it carries, can cause some controversy; echoing a chicken/egg argument. Was the piece based on a pre-conceived idea of crafting a perspicacious title? Does the naming of a piece add to it if it somehow provokes further thought, even infinite analysis, and the suggestion of another (‘higher’) level of creativity?

The ‘nature’ of the exhibition showcasing the work of Win Norton lends itself to either side. Some pieces (‘Fragments Falling’/’Fragmented’) lean towards being essentially abstract in both conception and creation and have been given life at an unknown stage in the artist’s individual quest for inspiration. The aforementioned, one arguably takes at face value, and attempts to connect with a hidden agenda in the indifferent, matter of fact ceramic shards that can be seen, arguably falling, but falling where, falling why, falling how?

Other such playfully emblematic pieces are bizarre in their seeming abstract rationality. ‘Icelandic Ash Cloud Coming Your Way’ is fantastic in encompassing humour, terror, beauty, science and nature, and will unearth personal emotions; thus giving abstraction a degree of clarity and logic.

Norton’s background in science and Biology is identifiable in further pieces resembling ceramic microcosms, and it is this cross-over in the exhibition that dictates the obvious combination of her work and the following artist.

Gavin Carter

Though figuratively the work of Gavin Carter is ‘alongside’ that of Win Norton, it is exhibited in such a way as to fill the middle of the gallery, where sharp, vertical sculptures stand proud on plinths and force the viewer to either circle or weave (or both) to gain premium vantage for closer inspection and deeper appreciation. For although the work is stark and abrasive, especially when viewed as a whole, each piece is precise, refined, accurate and detailed.

Motive and motivation also lies in the artist’s scientific background, merging molecular biology, biotechnology, but also nature – ecosystems, formations and content ranging from landscapes to the microscopic.

At the back of the gallery a large-spiked, claw-like sculpture ('Raven's Wing')unintentionally impacts due to the smell of paint and lacquer from the artist in residence’s studio area. The strong scent makes the already striking piece stand out further with it arguably being the only piece in the exhibition that looks capable of producing such an aroma, lending a ‘freshness’ to its appeal; as if being newly completed that morning, or indeed that furthermore it is a living entity, a biological phenomenon that requires continuous nurture.

No doubt scientific theory is met with the artist’s affinity for the natural world, visibly blending rigour and primality, and creating a tribal feel with vast oak statues that occasionally resemble over-sized, obscure African musical instruments, yet evoke a true sense of humanity, of progress, from the microscopic to the monumental; a three-dimensional slideshow demonstrating infinite possibility.

‘Natural Abstractions’ ran from June 18th through to July 11th.

The work of artist Sally Hogarth is now on display until August 8th at The Sayle Gallery (1-3 Harris Promenade, Villa Marina, Douglas).

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