Study event review: London, September 22
OCA Degree Shows: 3rd September 2022
Arlene Sharp: Painted Space, Remembering Gilbert’s Lake
Arlene’s degree show exhibition, in the gallery room of the Harrow Art’s Centre, was very carefully considered to provide an insight into her practice, her artistic journey and her work. Her Exhibition Guide pamphlet provides much detail about her artistic journey. It explains the inspiration and process behind her work:
the local area of Grimsdyke Woods…home…to dramatist, librettist and poet W.S. Gilbert…Unprimed canvases, marked with inks, were left for several weeks in the swampy water (Arlene Sharp, 2022)
Her exploration that led to further work:
Photographing the canvases in situ…were used as inspiration for further paintings (Arlene Sharp, 2022)
As well as the thinking behind the curation strategy:
It was important to replicate that sense of space…when walking through woodland…a group of five hanging canvases…arranged to partially hide and reveal the photographs positioned around them (Arlene Sharp, 2022)
Walking into the space, you are struck by the large black and white photo of the lake scene that has two smaller paintings strategically placed on top. In one corner, hanging paintings that have been dipped in the lake are shown in front of colour photographs of the same paintings in situ bringing the lake into the space metaphorically and literally.
During her talk, Arlene explained how she was inspired by The Poetics of Space (1994) by Gaston Bachelard, which describes how our thoughts, memories and dreams shape our perceptions of the spaces we inhabit. That led her to think about how she experienced and painted the Gilbert’s Lake woodland near her home. As she displayed and photographed her work in the lake, she considered whether to create three dimensional works from her paintings but ultimately decided that her paintings are an exploration of bringing the lake space into the white cube of the gallery. She does this successfully – all the paintings show echoes of the woodland lake and its surrounding foliage rendered in layers of complementary and adjacent colours, semi-abstract marks, lines and collage. The bright blues, oranges, yellows, greens and purples contrasting with the rich darker shadows provide a sense of walking through the dappled English woodland, spotting glimpses of water or sky.
In the other corner, Arlene has displayed a delightful sketchbook filled with preparatory work that questions, explores, critiques and brings to help her artistic processes. Together with the framed drawings that hang above the sketch book, they provide a supplementary insight into her practice as an artist.
Mickos: …Searching for the Light
Walking into Mickos’s equally successful degree show exhibition later that day provided a different experience for the audience. In contrast to Arlene’s space, Mickos’s show was a more commercial venture. He displayed his professionally framed paintings in a busy Portobello Street shop front space to maximise the sales opportunity of having thousands of passers-by and to strive to balance the expenses of hiring a costly venue.
At the back of the exhibition, Mickos displayed his explorations with light that spoke to his research practice. Cans crushed, glued to a surface and painted black or a single primary colour gleaming under the gallery lights as a single colour was turned into an infinite variety via light. Photographs of his lightbox experiments that show abstract multi-coloured images through shards of glass and mirror in a black box.
Mickos stated that he wanted his work to bring happiness to his viewers. His paintings of the local woodland were full of sparkling light and the reflective colours of the trees, streams and skies throughout the changing seasons of the year. His exhibition enabled him to bring that light into people’s homes through the sale of his paintings.