‘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.