There have already been some photographs of this exhibition up on my blog, but that was for my post about the preview night. This is more about Hope Stebbing and Oliver Perry’s artwork itself. Given the connotations this work carries through the partnership with the Great North Run and the consequent success of Stebbing and Perry, I feel like I am talking about something huge. Something very impressive to the point that I am going to shy away from all the bravado to instead focus on their work in a gallery setting. My happy place. It was unlike any work I’d previously seen in the University Gallery. Normally it’s more along the lines of Norman Cornish style art. So this felt like a statement. Literally! The words form ‘onward”together”as one’. They are bold and they are solid. Yet what I love is the fragility of the welded stands that hold them up. They look so precarious given the solidity of the structured words.
I suppose part of what was so interesting about this exhibition was how they used the space. Very effectively in my opinion. As you wander through the exhibition, you are wondering through the words. Almost as if you are a character in a book submerged within your own story. I like how they were centered in the room rather than up against the wall, that would be so boring! The lighting in the gallery did wonders for the work as well. Shadows on the floor, on the walls, within the letters themselves. It just accentuated the artwork beautifully. And of course the colours are to die for, subtle yet exuberant.
I liked the contrast the large pastel lettering held with the miniature monochrome lettering. Again it demonstrates an understanding of the space; how important the floor is. A lot of people don’t realise this but the utilisation of the floor not only lay with the Abstract Expressionist artists such as Jackson Pollock, but is was also rooted in Korean traditional art. The Korean artists viewed the floor as superior to the wall in terms of a working space. They never bothered with easels instead choosing simply to kneel whilst they worked. I suppose this was linked to the cultural traditions that included the removal of shoes as a sign of respect upon entering somebody’s house. I will dig up my notes and do a post about it at some point as it is all very beautiful and inspiring to learn about. I stumbled across the traditions of Korean art when I was doing research a while back and coincidentally I had been doing most of my work by kneeling on the floor. It’s funny, but sometimes it really does feel like books speak to you.