‘The Slack Shallows’, Fiona Curran

HS Projects is delighted to present ‘The Slack Shallows’, an exhibition of new work by Fiona Curran.

The title of this exhibition The Slack Shallows is taken from a passage in J.G.Ballard’s novel The Crystal World (1966). The novel charts a journey by the character Dr Sanders into the heart of a forest which is undergoing a radical transformation through a strange process of crystallisation. Everything in the path of this mysterious virus/disease is engulfed and transformed by a technicolour encrustation of jewel-like crystals. All organic and non-organic matter has become frozen and petrified by the crystals in a process that appears to have no end. Throughout the novel the crystal world continues to spread, it exerts a seductive lure on everyone who comes into contact with it. Several characters find themselves moving towards its luminosity rather than away from it, and those who resist being absorbed by it feel a strange sense of listlessness when they escape back to the ‘old’ world.

Fiona Curran works with painting, textiles and site-specific installation, exploring the poetics and the politics of landscape space and the impacts of screen-based technologies on the diminishment of our sensory engagement with the world. The presence of a heightened colour palette within her work, alongside assembled, collaged and layered surfaces, seeks to both mimic and counter the fractured, illuminated and seductive spaces of the screen, whilst immersing the viewer in a more physical and material engagement with colour and space. Ballard’s crystal world becomes an analogy for our contemporary moment where we increasingly inhabit a world mediated by the interface of the screen. Experience becomes a complex assemblage of direct and indirect experiences of space and place where interior and exterior, figure and ground and real and imagined are blurred.

Curran’s works, however, seek to navigate between the “slack shallows” and the “endless glimmer” in order to reveal a recurring utopian impulse, formal idealism and sense of escapism. She is interested in abstract fields of colour, in the use of framing devices and forms of enclosure. Materials are stacked and folded or lean precariously against a support. Structures often appear to be in the process of being built, woven or stitched together, or perhaps in the process of being dismantled, falling apart, or abandoned, it’s not clear which. New forms are assembled from old in an ongoing process of change and transformation.

Fiona Curran read Philosophy at the University of Manchester before studying at Manchester School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art, and teaches at the Royal College of Art. Recent commissions include: Bright shadows point, Eddington, Cambridge, (2021); Your sweetest empire is to please, National Trust Gibside, Gateshead; The grass seemed darker than ever, Kielder Castle, Kielder Forest, Northumberland. Selected solo exhibitions include: Jump Cut, Still Life, Broadway Gallery, Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, (2021); Beach Fatigue, Carslaw St*Lukes, London, (2013); Waiting For The Perfect View, Touchstones, Rochdale, Manchester, (2012). Group exhibitions include: Lovely View, Way Out East Gallery, University of East London, London (2022); Continuities, Paul Hughes Fine Arts, Wiltshire (2021).

‘The Slack Shallows’ is at Howick Place from December 2022 to June 2023.

Fiona Curran

‘Interchange Junctions’

HS Projects curated its first major group exhibition, ‘Interchange Junctions’, at 5 Howick Place. The exhibition examines contested cultural and political histories, which carry special resonance at Howick Place, named after Viscount Howick (later 2nd Earl Grey) one of the main architects of the Reform Act 1832, Catholic emancipation and the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

‘Interchange Junctions’ follows on from Yinka Shonibare’s permanent commission ‘Wind Sculpture’, a site specific response to the history of the area and continues Shonibare’s focus on themes of colonialism, trade, and race, employing the artist’s signature use of batik Dutch wax fabric designs which have become synonymous with African identity.

The artists in the exhibition have been invited to create a dialogue with Yinka Shonibare’s ‘Wind Sculpture’, with the multi-cultural aspect of the exhibition paying homage to the enlightened actions carried out in the name of Howick. Through a range of media from film, animation, sculpture, collage, photography, drawing, painting and performance, the artists seek to explore cultural frameworks and issues of identity and how we negotiate these through the historical legacy of our collective past and our ever evolving multi-cultural global world.

‘Interchange Junctions’ offers the opportunity to experience a number of new works and site specific commissions as well as works that have not been shown in London before. Ideas of mobility, memory and transmission, migration, trade and colonial struggle are explored along with notions of social awareness and engagement. Misinterpretation and misplacement of accepted norms from one culture to another are part of a discourse on friction between cultures, identity and cultural belonging. Notions of power, success and failure run through the exhibition challenging long held assumptions.

Participating artists: Faisal Abdu’Allah, Larry Achiampong, Faig Ahmed, Alice Anderson, Shiraz Bayjoo, David Blandy, Phoebe Boswell, Jessie Brennan, Fiona Curran, Corinne Felgate, Rose Finn-Kelcey, Romuald Hazoumè, Rob Kesseler, Alex Lawler, Alan Magee, Jade Montserrat, Alida Rodrigues, Zineb Sedira, Shahzia Sikander, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Michelle Ussher, Andy Wicks and BA(Hons) Ceramic Design Central Saint Martins students (Lucy Anderson, Sarah Christie, Yung Cheuk Chung, Srabani Ghosh, Ziynet Hidiroglu, Ellis Hooson, Sun-a Kim, Friedrich Ly Thien Co, Jessica Martin, David McQuire, Megan Niell, Niamh Philips, Jose Salgrado De Lacerda, Harriet Sennett, Sandra Stallard, Akville Zukauskaite).

During the closing event of 19th June, there was a rap performance by David Blandy and Larry Achiampong who under the alias ‘Biters’, examined the possibility for truthful, authentic experience via the popular cultures that have influenced them. They investigated what identity might mean in the post-colonial and post-mass media age by crate-digging through history, recycling already-sampled beats and reciting stolen rhymes.

‘Interchange Junctions’ was funded by Invesco Real Estate (IRE) and Urban & Civic, the joint developer behind 5 Howick Place with Doughty Hanson & Co Real Estate.

‘Interchange Junctions’ was at 5 Howick Place, Victoria London, from 10 May – 21 June 2014.