Carnival Glass, Block 366, December 2015-January 2016
Lewis Betts, Freya Douglas-Morris, Grant Foster, Brian Griffiths , Lydia Hardwick, Archie Franks, Lana Locke
Archie Franks, participant as well as organiser of this exhibition, is apparently relaxed in the way he deals with material and subject. He suggests that all the work in 'Carnival Glass' displays a 'liberal attitude towards the use of historical and art historical periods'. Franks is not suggesting the relationship between these works betrays some internal logic, however, yet it is true that the work carries an open, yet particular, range of reference, approach and result. Any mixed show can have a truly touching way of seeming to speak, material can seem to have so much in common. But what happened to that simplistic notion, so long ago, that there was a sense of line-up, an equality between image and reference? How do you position your self in terms of now, and before?
Really what the artists have in common is a generous construction and a proliferation of images. The experience of the work makes, perhaps, a luxurious experience, where the situation or place is given and we participate within that anticipation. They are not long out of art school, with the notable exception of Brian Griffiths whose concurrent exhibition at Baltic in Gateshead is a range of suggestion, place, and feelings presented in a clear and unconfusing manner. His work is not explicitly referring to the past as much as bringing material together that creates a collective mass of associative value, an over-all, all-over effect. As an artist who does not set out for perversity Griffiths manages to draw the curious, surreal, strange, known and unknown out of a regular heart beat of observation. Maybe fear of excess, a sort of moralism did stalk the corridors of art school and creep into minds in the huge gap between then and now. The resultant fear of a public display of affection, of theatrical showing off, has evaporated. Material in itself always carries association, as Griffiths illustrates, and the combination of construction and association is true to all this work. Most of the artists in this exhibition have recently been selected for New Contemporaries, the highly competitive annual send in exhibition, Griffiths was an exhibitor and selector some time ago. The work has had to stand out each time in order to claim its own space.
© Sacha Craddock - Dec.2015