Current exhibitionsCurrent exhibitions

Vicken Parsons: Fourth Wall
13 September - 2 November 2014

The New Art Centre is delighted that Vicken Parsons is showing her painting and sculpture in the gallery at Roche Court. In an exciting and radical new departure, she has also transformed the exhibition space itself with her largest work to date: a drawing which spans the entire glass façade of the award-winning gallery.

Vicken Parsons is best known for paintings of interiors and landscapes, rendered on a small scale in characteristic muted colours on thick wooden board and sometimes on glass. Her work engages with space and light and is inspired by personal experience, though her paintings are derived from memory and sensation rather than from direct observation. In a recent interview Vicken Parsons described how 'I like the contradiction of making a large space in a small thing, within the small thing, the space opens up again. But it's not a real space, obviously, it's a suggested space - and sometimes it is a cancellation of that'¹. Parsons therefore dispels the 'fourth wall' of the picture plane and takes the viewer into another dimension of empty rooms and corners, which are occasionally illuminated by a flash of bright yellow, blue, orange or white. Whilst the human figure is absent in the spaces she creates, Parsons conveys a sense of atmosphere and material feeling, allowing an intense 'presence' to be easily imagined there.

Iwona Blazwick has described Parson's paintings as 'proud... dense little sculptures'². In fact Vicken Parsons has been making sculpture as well as painting for some time, though her objects were only exhibited in the UK last year in a show organised by Kettle's Yard in St Peter's Church, Cambridge. Like the paintings the sculptures are small scale. Made from steel blocks they explore our perception of physical and spatial relationships. Their arrangement of geometric shapes - always rectangular but of different sizes and scales - suggests rigorous planning, like cityscapes seen from above which, we might imagine, contain the kind of interior spaces we see portrayed in the paintings. The steel blocks also provide a surface for her painting and their 'rational form is made to relent a little under the influence of the calmly expressive brushwork'³.

Vicken Parsons (b. 1957) studied at the Slade and last showed at the New Art Centre in 2006. Other solo exhibitions have taken place at Kettle's Yard, the Whitechapel Art Gallery and Tate St Ives and she has been included in group shows at Tate Modern, the Royal Academy, the ICA, Southampton City Art Gallery and Kunsthalle Mannheim. Her work is in a number of important public collections including Tate, Arts Council Collection and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

¹. Spence, R., 'Great and Small', Financial Times, 27 January 2012
². Blazwick, I. & Shani, A., 'Vicken Parsons: Light', exh. cat., Christie Koenig Galerie, Vienna, pub. London, 2005
³. Mengham, R., 'Vicken Parsons: Painted Objects', exh. cat., Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge, 2013

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Jacques Limousin: Wessex Mudlark
13 September - 2 November 2014

Raymond Queneau wrote in Les Enfants du Limon (1938) 'I always had a taste, which will no doubt seem curious to you, a taste, more or less disguised, for waste and rubbish'.
It is a line which sums up accurately the methodology of the French artist and architect Jacques Limousin, who for more than fifty years has developed his own taste for rubbish, collecting and then assembling objects, finds and remains in often delightful and surprising ways. In the tradition of the 'readymade', found fragments of tiles, porcelain, bricks and scrap metal may therefore be combined with a child's farmyard toy, a magnifying glass or an interesting piece of flint and given new life as art objects.

The seashore has always been Limousin's favourite hunting ground and he has trawled the beaches of France and Italy for flotsam and jetsam, collecting what he found on the surface of the sand. More recently he has extended the scope of his explorations to England and since the 1990s he has explored the foreshore of the Thames collecting the detritus of London's past like a Victorian mudlark. Flea Markets, streets, fields, and now eBay, are equally good resources. The sculptures presented here in the Artists House are the result of his most recent excursions and comprise the latest finds made in Wiltshire, walking through the park at Roche Court and on a visit to Wessex Archaeology.

In the publication accompanying the exhibition Dr Alex Langlands, the archaeologist, historian and television presenter of BBC2's Victorian Farm, describes how Limousin removes the found object from the dogmatic contexts of social theory, and places it once again centre stage in the study of the human condition: For Limousin, the Artists House at Roche Court becomes his own 'cabinet of curiosities'. In allowing mute objects to speak thus, to inspire their own narrative and to express their own sense of being, we are provided with a timely reminder that what sets humanity apart is the artefact: something taken from raw material, fashioned by the human hand, cherished and, in the final phase of its biographical trajectory, discarded.

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