Dancing, Some people love it! I did dance at drama school; modern, tap, jazz etc. I was a clunker at it and, thankfully, very few people had the misfortune of seeing me in action. If the thought of me stumbling uncomfortably through a routine with the grace of a drunken Thunderbirds puppet with a loose string hasn’t put you off reading, carry on and see how Blackpool based artist Sam Simpson has turned her love of dancing into a body of artwork that has more than the usual oomph.
Sam’s work is on show upstairs at The Galleon Cafe on Topping Street (not the bar). It’s not an ideal space to be honest and any work is going to suffer for its display there, You can’t fight against bad light and the odd collection of Nolans albums and gossipy celebrity biographies that I guess are the leftovers from the room’s previous life as ‘The Memory Gallery’. Thankfully, Sam’s work is strong and true enough to buck the surroundings and give us an exciting show.
Sam, as anyone who has met her knows, is the closest thing we have to a perpetual motion machine. The rhythm in her head finds its way into every aspect of her life and art practice. It’s not unknown to see her shaking her meat to the beat in Lidl if the Muzak strikes her, so it’s not unexpected that her first solo show is about dance or, more to the point, the act of dancing.
Her current work is (as anyone who has picked up this month’s altBlackpool print edition can see from the cover) a celebration of dancing, of movement and of the event of hitting the town to wiggle your bits to the hits.
Explosions of coloured pastel blast across black paper, figures blur in movements of energy that speak of the motion of flesh and the joys of the physical action of dancing. It’s eye bashing stuff; crazed writhing figures lead the eye around the body, hands flare into fans of colour, heads lost in the moment as they enter the state of the insistent distant drum.
In counterpoint to the jagged black set coloured works are a collection of Simpson’s pencil drawings. Again with these the figure is the focus and these for me are the stand out works. In art I’m all about mark-making and taking a line for a walk. With the whirling lines and sensitive capture of movement Sam has found an ideal way to express both in her practice.
It’s beautiful work; work that shows Sam’s passion for the dance in the everyday and those special nights of ‘taking it till dawn’. They say in time we will, but hardcore will never die. Sam’s enthusiastic rendering of the body given over to music and moment show this to be true. You can’t kill the beat and the beat will continue to inspire artists like Sam to greater heights.
Images by Jill Reidy of Two Old Birds Photography.
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