Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Contemporary Perspectives in Water Colour

Mall Galleries     14th-18th June 2011
Lucy Jones
On arriving at the Gallery, BL and I had no idea what to expect. A watercolour exhibition at the Mall Galleries conjured up images of twee watery washes and unadventurous landscapes. However the list of names exhibiting had lured us along, in particular Lucy Jones and Patricia Cain (the latter of which had won the much coveted Threadneedle Prize in 2010).

It turned out to be a bijou collection of paintings in the smallest of the Mall Galleries. This exhibition has been put together by Lewis McNaught the Mall’s director as a new initiative to invigorate and refresh the Mall. Having taken over the running of the Mall 4 years ago Lewis is ambitious to bring new life to this exhibition space  and make it a destination gallery. Although committed to keeping the traditional societies that have made the Mall what it is today he is also very aware that the Mall needs a face lift for the millennium. The small gallery is about to undergo a major refurbishment (with much of the funding coming from the Arts Council, a coup in itself nowadays), polished concrete floors, exposed girders and a much needed window onto the Mall itself. This will be a much  larger and more contemporary space to rival ‘The White Cube’. Lewis is hoping curators will be excited enough to fill the space with new and innovative work.

So BL and I enter the exhibition. Lucy Jones did not disappoint with fresh vibrant landscapes of St James and Battersea Park. Confident washes of colour and intense squeezing of pigments joyously gamble across her paper and give the viewer a wonderful sense of the artist enjoying her creativity

Iain Andrews Bat Flood Acrylic,
thread and beads on canvas
This is not a traditional watercolour exhibition; it embraces watercolour, acrylic, print and collage. Of particular note were the pictures by Iain Andrews and David Orme. Iain uses a mix of thick squeezes of acrylic, washes and delicate brush work. He builds a magical theatrical landscaped world in a murky forest with ominous bats hanging from trees. It brought to mind the recent exhibition by Ged Quinn at Stephen Friedman and that of Mathew Weir at Alison Jacques. David Orme (who recently graduated from the RCA) in contrast uses a mix of wash, pencil and collage on paper. Every mark seems sensitively thought about, light of touch and delicate, the rubbings out as important and the remaining marks.


David Orme, Untitled, Collage on paper
This exhibition certainly was a fresh look at watercolour and delighted and intrigued in equal measure. I look forward to what this gallery may become.