Abingdon Studios has been showcasing some of the best and brightest artists working not only in Blackpool, but all of the UK and around world since it opened, bringing to the town an array of diverse exhibitions and events within this artist led space.
Recently the Studios Directing Founder, Garth Gratrix, invited Alan Baker, who has currently had work in an exhibition in South Korea, to show a selection of pencil drawings from his ongoing series, “Trap and Snare”. I went down to the preview to get a sneaky look before the exhibition opened to the public and see if I could have a chat with the artist himself.
Baker is a master of his craft, receiving his MA in Fine Art at Metropolitan University in 2013. He is now working from his studio in the north west of England. The drawings on display are some of the most fascinating pencil artworks I have seen in a while, not only because of the high-level of skill involved in their creation but also the range and depth of issues that the work is exploring. I profess to be a huge fan of this medium and, as a fine artist myself, I understand the complexities of creating engaging and powerful work from a modest tool such as a pencil. Baker seems to do this with great ease. His work is intricate, delicate and simply displayed capturing the interest of the viewer from the first glance.
Speaking with the artist, he explained his curiosity with the relationship between humans and animals. He has taken the idea of the traditional animal trap and by turning it on its heads has created mantraps instead. His witty pairing of domestic items with natural found forms such as tyres and rocks highlights some complex and pressing questions about the spaces in which humans and animals coexist.
Barker often displays his work with the original sculptures (traps) that he has first made and then drawn. Although they are not being displayed this time, it is easy to imagine how difficult, sometimes dangerous, they would be to construct and work with. Baker has had a few incidents with his traps and likens theses moments to the classic children’s cartoon “Road Runner”, just at the moment before the anvil hits one of the characters. Slightly comical but with a sinister undertone. This tension translates into the work and is then highlighted by the artist with the subtle use of red pencil within the images. It would be easy to spend hours poring over the tiny details in each piece.
I was carried away by the work and friendly conversation with the artist and public that turned up for the evening preview. The atmosphere was welcoming and lively. The exhibition was well received and very enjoyable.
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