Light is an amazing medium in itself. It can literally transform how you look at things – the same object presented with different lighting can read in a completely different way. Gallery lighting can enhance a piece of artwork or dull it into almost non-existence.
I’m pleased to say that seeing some of my recent work installed in the fabulous gallery space at Durlston Castle on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset this week has been really exciting, dramatic even. The gallery space here is within a contemporary, architect-designed glass atrium built on the outside of the castle, using one of the castle walls to support it. It is flooded with natural light, streaming in sideways from the long wall of double doors that lead outside, and from above, from the vast line of skylights that run the length of the whole gallery.
When I walked in yesterday, it was dazzling and the works along the castle wall, including mine, were literally bathed in sunshine. They looked so different in this natural, rather than artificial, light. The strips of light falling onto “The Square – finding each other again in the paradise of lost souls” (map pieces & gesso on canvas) played with the pathways in the labyrinth within the piece, dancing across the surface as the sun and shadows moved all day.
Highlighting Land Scapes
Meanwhile, “From Me to You” (map pieces & stitching on paper) was hung for this show vertically rather than horizontally, which I really like, and when the sunlight played on this piece, it literally changed the landscape. The light accentuated all the bumps and valleys caused by the shrinkage and warping of the tracing paper during the process of making it. It highlighted the bright blue stitches round the edge and also the blue ‘lakes’ in the centre of the piece. The colours of the roads in the maps seem more saturated than I’d ever noticed before and it seemed a much more sculptural piece than in artificial low light. The stone walls of the castle behind it only seem to accentuate this too.
There are a few sculptural pieces hung nearby, so the curators picked up on this too. The whole show has been beautifully hung by Suzy, Jem and Megan from Dorset Visual Arts, and includes works by about 50 artists. It opened on Wednesday 11th May as a preview to this year’s Dorset Art Weeks (the largest open studios event in the country).
Ch, Ch, Ch, Ch, Changes
There’s a wonderful variety of work in this group show, and I’m sure this special light has a similar impact on the way the other pieces function too. I’ll discover more of this as I visit and revisit over the course of the coming month while the show is on and watch the light ebb and flow, glow and fade through the weather and the time of day. As we left last night the sharpness in the light had dissipated and the gallery calmed down, almost as if these works needed a rest from being looked at all day.
There are threads and connections between them all, which is evident as you walk round the show. It’s beautiful. It’s great when artists get together and investigate a common theme. It doesn’t take much encouragement for ideas to spark and people to help each other create in ways they probably wouldn’t have done had they not worked alongside each other. Two years ago, three DVA project groups were launched –
- Interrogating Landscape
- Interrogating Materials
- Interrogating the Figure
This show, and its sister show that’s on currently at Bridport Arts Centre, both present the work resulting from the explorations of the themes and also the collaborations that happened within those groups.
I wasn’t part of these groups, as I’ve only just joined DVA, but I can see the threads and connections through the light, and I look forward to reflecting on these more as the show continues and as I spend time in this wonderful space, just watching the light play with all these artworks.
“The Ship” by Fernando Velazquez, part of “Interrogating Projects”
Durlston Country Park
11th May – 16th June
part of Dorset Art Weeks 2016