Monday, 24 June 2013

What's cooking in Ilminster?

Last Thursday I visited Mark and Tracy Nesbit's exhibition, 'Physicality and Metaphysical Expressions' at Ilminster Arts Centre featuring mixed media paintings, sculpture and mixed media work from the two Somerset-based artists.
The work, isn't intended to necessarily be anything to do with cooking, as my blog post title may suggest; just that I cannot help finding comparisons in the work, its processes and materials, that remind me of some sort of alchemical cooking experiment. Mark in his paintings mixes and layers pigments, metallic elements (perhaps for added mystery?), hair, lime, plaster and more into rich almost 'baked' looking surfaces. They are scraped-back, flattened, cracked, heavy-looking and worn making them look quite industrial or urban (except the few which are portraits) and strongly remind me of Tapies' paintings which I had the pleasure of seeing in Barcelona earlier this year. I'm pretty certain Mark is aware of this analogy and would want him to take it as a compliment as in fact, I enjoy some of his paintings more than Tapies'. Personally, I am a fan of the industrial cogs, wheels and solid, angular lines and mark making in Mark's paintings and the way in which layers are revealed and placed over one another and connected as though stapled together by line. In a way that also makes them quite sculptural paintings. It occurred to me the other day that paintings that look sculptural, a 2D surface that is given treatment as though it were 3D is an interesting concept and illusion that I would like to explore further (but for another day!).
Tracy's sculptural works in some cases do actually use food and baking (see bread sculpture below) that she stitches and creates intriguing shapes and forms, no two of which are ever exactly the same. There is a sensitivity to the way she uses materials and how their handling, for me anyway evokes memories and nostalgia of baking and sewing with family members. I wonder if the other pieces containing remnants of scrunched tissues and slate with latex images stitched inside hold similar associations with ideas of loss and memory. At this point, I'm beginning to think I should have paid more heed to the artist statement accompanying the work, but was too curious in looking at the work itself. The work is more conceptual in nature, but I don't think it has to be 'read' in order to have affect or meaning as the work is tactile and visually creative. Materials such as tissues, lead, slate, latex and wood have been used inventively and thoughtfully. It does however raise the question and make me wonder if Tracy thinks through making or makes through thinking i.e.. does the material and process dictate the idea behind the work or is an idea formulated and then a suitable material and process found to fit it? I'd hazard a guess that its the first of those or perhaps a combination of the two.
It is really exciting to see such a diverse array of work in this exhibition that showcases Mark and Tracy's skills as makers as well as thinkers. I look forward to seeing what they'll cook up next!
(above) Mark Nesbit 'Old Hundreth' Plaster, emulsion, soot, metallic elements and compounds on canvas. [detail]
(above) Mark Nesbit 'Anvil' Plaster, lime, ash, metallic elements and compounds on canvas
(above) Mark Nesbit 'Human Construction' Plaster, lime, ash, metallic elements, human hair, boot polish and compounds on canvas.
(above) Tracy Nesbit 'Freebie' Perspex, lead, compressed tissues
(above) Tracy Nesbit's bread sculptures
(above) Tracy Nesbit
Catch Tracy Nesbit and Mark Nesbit's exhibition, 'Physicality and Metaphysical Expressions'
 until 29th June at Ilminster Arts Centre at The Meeting House,  09.30am-04.30pm daily

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