‘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.

‘Pollute Volute’, Laura White

HS Projects is delighted to present ‘Pollute Volute’, an exhibition of recent and new work by Laura White.

Over the past two and half years White’s materially engaged practice has brought into focus her relationship with nature, specifically looking at trees and fungi, their ability to connect through mycelium underground and their capacity to store carbon. Trees support an ecosystem of life well beyond their years, leafless dead trees a host to a wealth of living creatures.

Her works respond both visually and scientifically to the way trees and fungi grow, such as ideas of adaption and change in relation to the immediate circumstances and surroundings, opposed to a predetermined fixed plan.

Laura White chooses to work with materials that challenge her, such as soft unstable plastics to build up layer by layer with no final goal in mind, other than to grow up, pushing the material to the limit – a lean to the left requiring a counter lean to avoid falling over.

The Pollute Volute series of which Rise 1- 3 are being exhibited here, are unruly sculptures stretching nearly 3.5 meters high, layers of coloured silicone rubber separated by tissue paper hand built from the bottom up. These organic forms are a product of their making, connecting to traditional craft methods and the process of 3D printing.

The smaller works, ‘Spurt’ series grow more uniformly upwards, maintaining control of the material, while the ‘Spurtives’ push the unpredictability of the material to the limit. The actions used in the larger works rely on Laura’s entire body to shape and form them whereas these table top works are the outcome of a gesture between finger and thumb, reducing the movement of her body, and as a consequence miniaturising the works.

Laura White’s practice focuses on a negotiation with the world of STUFF, ie interactions with materials and objects exploring ideas of value, profile, association, meaning and behaviour of materials, individual and collections of objects, and exploring the digital and physical environments which are increasingly indistinguishable. Works occupy a fluid space, on one hand demanding critical discourse, and on the other their own ambiguous and intuitive logic.

Things are explored both as material stuff and anthropological signifiers, that are capable of revealing the human condition – vulnerabilities and capabilities, value systems affected by consumerism and material status, and objects/human dependencies.

It is important for White to explore as the maker and to communicate to the viewer a material engagement, where the works suggest a human physical interaction. Materials are pushed and challenged, such as to manipulate ceramics as if it was malleable clay, to take a process familiar in one material and apply to another, to tear, break, collapse and then deal with the consequences. Laura’s fascination with material behaviour addresses ideas of not knowing, not planning, unlearning and been open to failure which exposes her own vulnerabilities and strengths, as well as those of the materials she uses.

Laura’s practice is interdisciplinary and includes studio based work: sculpture, installation, drawing and photography, WRITING: on material encounters and entanglements with the world of stuff (Tenderfoot.co.uk launching in 2017) and FIELDWORK: workshops exploring materiality, both participating on and running them. E.g. She collaborated with the Royal College of Art and Raven Row Gallery London, a project titled ‘what it means to handle stuff – auto-pedagogy – a course in butchery’, which included a discussion around the notion of making and skills: what it means to learn a skill and to deskill, the environment we learn in, the groups we learn with and skills we can access both as an amateur and a professional, and a course in butchery lead by a professional butcher who taught herself, the gallery director and the fine art students butchery techniques. She has developed similar projects with the MA in Art and Material Histories at City and Guilds Art School London, NewBridge Projects Gateshead and Goldsmiths College. Also, for the past six years she has been extending her knowledge and experience of the material world, and different mind – hand – material – environment negotiations by participating on skill based courses including fish knife skills, taxidermy, forging, cheese making, dress making, bread making, butchery, basket weaving, glass blowing, pot throwing, fishing and patisserie.

‘Pollute Volute’ is at Howick Place from June to December 2022.

‘A Waking Dream’, Jan Eric Visser & Tatiana Wolska at Hammersmith

HS Projects, in collaboration with l’étrangère, is delighted to present ‘A Waking Dream’, an exhibition of works by Rotterdam-based artist Jan Eric Visser and Brussels-based artist Tatiana Wolska. 

The exhibition, inspired by John Keats’ poem ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, explores ideas around themes of nature, transience and finitude and references environmental and ecological concerns, such as the climate crisis, waste, resource depletion and overconsumption. 

Visser is known for creating abstract sculptures using his personal everyday inorganic household waste. Since 1987 he has been exploring an ecologically driven aesthetic respectful of earth’s resources and the cycle of nature and life. His sculptures are the result of a meditative process, creating new shapes by assembling waste materials and wrapping them in recycled paper pulp. Once impregnated with wax, such as votive candle residue, and softly polished, the objects take on a new identity. 

Visser’s sculptures often take the form of enigmatic figures, hovering mysteriously somewhere between humanoid and abstract while the crates, which are an integral part of his work, have been referred to as ‘unique boxes made by himself that fit ‘like a second skin’ and evoke a new birth” (Kees Rood, A Way of Life, of 1996).  

Describing herself a ‘junk collector’, Wolska uses found, often discarded industrial waste materials such as plastic bottles, salvaged timber, rusty nails and foam from old mattresses and ‘gives them a new life’. She transforms these humble materials into seductive poetic, biomorphic sculptures which often confront or enter into a dialogue with the environment and architecture. 

Wolska’s work acts to remind us of our responsibility to consider our consumption, the materials we waste and the long-term impact of our behaviour on our planet. An economy of means and simplicity of gesture are the foundation of her sculptural work. Her slow and painstaking practice sublimates the simplicity of the materials—recycled waste materials, always—in order to bring out their poetry.

The exhibition has been supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands.

‘A Waking Dream’ is at 12 Hammersmith Grove from March 2022 to July 2022.