It was a fantastic turn out for the preview of Abingdon Studios latest and to date, largest group exhibition. Arriving a few moments early so I could get a quick word with some of the artists, I found the evening already in full swing. This was an event that the local art community were clearly very excited about, this is not really a surprise when you consider that the list of exhibiting artists reads like the who’s who of contemporary practitioners on the Fylde coast.
“Something or Nothing” showcases not only the diverse skills and talents of the eight artists currently working from Abingdon, but a further ten that these artists have indulgently asked to get involved with the exhibition because they admire their work, thus not only giving us a peek at their own practice but the work of artists that inspire them.
Eighteen artists in total, all at varying stages in their careers and most working at a national level, took over the gallery space in the studio and together curated this cleverly thought out exhibition. It is without question the curating of this exhibition that is the real jewel in its crown.
Each piece compliments and challenges the surrounding pieces. Playful works such as Tina Dempsey’s “11 Dots (Best of Norwich)” rubbing up against a more sober offering such as Jodie Guest’s “Preservation of Memory”, evoke conflicting emotions from the viewer, by doing so each piece becomes more significant and powerful. Nothing here is lost or overlooked, no piece weightier than the last, each work poignant and important.
The respect given to these small works and the themes they explore is evident in their careful placement in the gallery space, creating an overall balance that is incredibly pleasing to the viewer and making for a very strong show.
Another exciting element, arguably the most important to this exhibition, is the size of the work. You are unsure if what you are viewing is part of some larger construction, the start of a new project or the remnants of one just finished. Artists who work on a large scale have been pushed to consider their own practice in a new way, if only for this exhibition but who knows what avenues this may take them down.
One of the invited artist and recent graduate, Laura Barnes, has created a series of tiny pen drawings that explore and showcase the mark making you see on her large pieces, while Brendan Bunting, a studio occupant, makes use of placement within the space to add yet another layer to an already thought-provoking piece.
For some, this is a wonderful introduction to the current practices of artists that you may not have come across before, or even practices you think you know well, but that have been scaled down, so you can re-engage and discover something different.
This exhibition is about relationships, those between the artists in the studio and their contemporaries, the relationships between the work exhibited and the artists current/future practice but moreover the relationships that you as a viewer you are creating or re-exploring with the artists and their work.
There was a lot more “Something” than “Nothing” to this exhibition – a must see!
For more information about the Project space programme visit the Abingdon Studios website at abingdonstudios.org.uk
*Abingdon Studios Project Space is located on the Upper Floor of the facility and accessible by stairs only.
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