notes from an exhibition

As I was passing through the marketplace towards the forum building in Norwich, to revisit the exhibition Elements: Man and the Environment on its final day, I passed by a secondhand book stall, and, after a few minutes browsing the shelves, came across the novel Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale – perhaps, with a sense of deja-vous or subliminal or tacit knowing, I instantly conjured up what this story might reveal… when one door closes another door opens… the end of an art exhibition is a good time for some reflection.

This is a self-portrait taken in the seductive, highly-polished surface of Andrew Campbell’s bronze sculpture, ‘I remember’ at the exhibition Elements. There is always something narcissistic in the allure of the mirrored surface – less about the physical form of an object reflecting its environs, and more about how it plays with our own self-perception…

It appeared to be a direct cast of an inflated balloon, and as a bronze it looked like a majestic orb on its plinth, the sophisticated, beautiful cousin of the ill-fated lead balloon (but even bronze will sink), and also (in my eyes), recalled memories of childhood, of releasing fairground helium balloons high into the sky, with a mixture of uncertainty and excitement – never quite knowing how high or how far they would travel, and where they would eventually land. This bronze balloon was grounded but would, at the very least, avert an instant death by pin… I found by chance (googling bronze balloon) more of Andrew Campbell’s work on flickr

Nearby were two mixed media sculptural works by the Norwich-based artist Louise Richardson, pieces which were imbued with a simultaneously poetic and macabre narrative in their dichotomy of materials – dresses made of concrete and bronze, dresses stained and tainted by the earth, left to nature and the elements, enchanting in their suggestion of ancient myths or fairy tales, of the craftsmanship in their delicate making, and yet sinister and haunting in what we see in the casket-like frames, the relics or remains of a past event, of mortality, death or ghosts…


Louise Richardson, ‘Being’ left and ‘Host’ right; concrete, cold cast bronze, mixed media

Veronica Grassi’s Decaying Vessels have a simliar, delicate resonance – of fragility and strength, the remains of nests, shells or cocoons, and all exquisitely made with the finest of threads and paper pulp.


Veronica Grassi, ‘Decaying Vessels’, stitched thread and paper

Jamie Andrews sculpture, 10,000 Men was the centrepiece of the exhibition, having won the £1000 Bayer Prize. It is made up of 10,000 toy soldiers, coagulated into a resinous, bloodied funereal pile, with a clear message that war is both messy and futile – it made me think of the collective will in the construction of ant-hills too, that even in a situation such as war the soldiers (or workers) just get on with the job …


Jamie Andrews, ‘10,000 Men’, mixed media

These are just a selection of the many artworks in Elements:Man and the Environment, ones which resonated with myself, in a very mixed, curated exhibition. These works were the more inspiring ones, ones which at their core, had materials and craftsmanship as integral to the concepts of the finished work. I may not have earned the grand but I am proud that I was selected, and pleased that my work received such good exposure and some recognition in the process. I will look into that occasional mirror of doubt and see that I am still an artist – it may not be the all-day-every-day occupation that myself and many other artists aspire to, but it is, in the end, my one-and-only vocation…


Jazz Green, ‘Rost’, mixed media on canvas