– We Stand Behind the Sky by Richard Heys –
England’s South Coast is the sunniest place in the UK with Eastbourne frequently topping the sunshine league, therefore it seems a fitting location for this conceptual homage to the theme of light. Drawn from the Arts Council’s huge national collection it is also one of the best exhibitions I have seen at Towner for some years.
Given its function as the basis for vision, light has long fascinated artists both as a material and as a subject and the vast majority of art concerned with making the world visible in some sense speaks of light. A Certain Kind of Light however explores how artists have responded to light, its materiality, transience and effect. The exhibition brings together artworks that reflect the relationship between light and a wide range of themes from brightness, colour and perception to transformation, energy and the passage of time. Encompassing paintings, sculpture, video, photography, drawing and immersive installations, it features artworks created from the 1960s to the present day by almost thirty leading artists including David Batchelor, Ceal Floyer, Raphael Hefti, Runa Islam, Anish Kapoor, L S Lowry, Katie Paterson, Peter Sedgley, Rachel Whiteread and Cerith Wyn Evans.
The exhibition considers the different ways artists have explored the various aspects of light, from its importance as a source of illumination, as a pure sculptural material, as a mysterious force and as a source of energy that can be conceptually converted into other forms.
Outstanding exhibits for me include Katie Paterson’s vast glitter ball revolving between two projectors creating an ever-turning cosmos of stars gliding across the gallery walls; Mark Garry’s exquisite thread rainbow which appears at first to be a beam of light passing at ceiling height between two galleries and then transforms into a light-splitting prism as you pass below. In fact in actuality it is simply a sheaf of coloured threads stretched between two walls, affected by ambient air and the gallery spotlights; David Batchelor’s marvellous cascade of coloured plastic bottles and Seascape by L.S. Lowry.
A Certain Kind of Light is the second in a series of exhibitions at Towner curated as part of The Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme. Towner is an Arts Council Collection National Partner 2016-19. Founded in 1946, The Arts Council Collection is the largest national loan collection of British modern and contemporary art and is managed on their behalf by the Hayward Gallery. As part of the Collection’s 70th Anniversary celebrations, the National Partners Programme will see four major galleries; Birmingham Museum Trust, Liverpool’s Walker Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Towner, working together over a three year period, hosting a series of new exhibitions.
Towner Art Gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays
10.00am-5.00pm. Free Admission
An Afterwards Again, 2017; site-specific installation by Mark Garry
Plastic Bottle Installation by David Batchelor
Artist in Focus
Contemporary Sussex based artist whose work resonates with the theme of light and would not have been out of place in the Towner exhibition is Richard Heys.
Richard’s work is primarily non-figurative, exploring pure colour and form and the substance of paint and ground. He creates work with presence and countenance.
Richard works in a light-filled studio in Forest Row exploring techniques and processes, which disguise the hand. This limitation enables a greater freedom and means of expression. He explores light and darkness and pure lyrical colour journeys, working with transparency and multiple glazing creating vibrant surfaces. He is engaged in a passionate personal journey to rediscover beauty.
Richard is committed to colour and forgetting. He says, “I attempt a self-forgetting, a side- stepping of rational processes to allow moments of creative innocence… This side stepping, deflecting quick answers and slick resolve, leads me on a passionate journey through the worlds of colour, both outer and inner. In the realisation of a finished work I recover mystery in this world of the known and work standing before the unknown.”
Arrival by Richard Heys
www.pureartsgroup.co.uk for further information and to download the 2016-2017 artist directory
Published in Aspect County March 2017 edition/ Articulate