AMY-LEIGH BIRD | SHAUN FRASER | SIMON KIDD
No 20 Arts
20 Cross Street
London N1 2BG
08/01/2021 – 02/05/2021
‘No 20 Arts is delighted to present THIS PLACE WHERE I STAND, an exhibition which brings together the work of Amy-Leigh Bird, Shaun Fraser, and Simon Kidd. From the shores of the Thames in London, to the Scottish Highlands and Islands, to Northern Ireland, each artist showcased in this exhibition places themes of identity and elemental links to site at the centre of their work.
Featuring sculptures, paintings, film, and works on paper, the exhibition is accompanied by an immersive soundscape designed in response to the artwork of each artist. Created by LOWT, the soundscape provides a cleansing sensory experience within which to discover the artworks of the three artists’.
In a new, specially commissioned short essay, Roddy Murray, Head of Visual Arts & Literature at An Lanntair writes:
‘The title of this exhibition evokes the Dig Where You Stand movement which began in Sweden in the 1970s. Politically, it had a leftist agenda but the principle became a byword and a modus operandi for local history projects: to research the past, to find out who you are, explore where you are. Look down as much as look around.
To paraphrase Joan Miro, “the more local it is, the more universal it becomes”.
A further guiding, unifying concept for the show is the palimpsest: a manuscript scraped of its original text and overwritten, perhaps many times. It’s a compelling metaphor for landscapes, which are at the same time, geographical and historical. The skin of the earth, tattooed, scarred, accreted. Storyboarded by agriculture, industry and homesteading. A human narrative in three dimensions.
The metaphor extends beneath the skin to flesh and bone. From the surface debris and litter of the recent past – the Anthropocene’s rush-to-midnight – back and down through ploughing, peat-cutting, quarrying and mining, to a human-free, geological, incomprehensibly Deep Time. The formation of the earth.
It unites three artists engaged with different strata of time and landscape. From geographic cardinal points – England, Scotland, Ireland – urban and rural, these artists have their own process, their own territory, their own maps and motives, simultaneously scratching, digging and collecting, building and re-creating. The place they stand is also a point of view. Amy-Leigh Bird retraces her childhood steps. Trawls, sifts and mud-larks the Thames shoreline for the river’s strewn cargo: its drowned residue, its human detritus. From buttons to bones. It’s a kind of resurrection. A means to reclaim a sense of the personal, the timeless individual, as much as the lost city and the churn of life. Her pristine prints recall the desert’s bonescape. Beyond the bone is the DNA.
Shaun Fraser’s footprint is in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, still ringing with the clamour of the last battle on British soil, still wrangling with the cultural aftermath. His oeuvre is peat, moorland, the blanket bog. A cultural sink that contains and conceals – dissolved and preserved – the history of these desolate, cleared spaces. His work in oil, tar and bitumen reimagines and recreates this temporal, empty yet alive landscape, recreated from its own essence. Its textures, its sullen, relentless, primeval chemistry.
In Northern Ireland, Simon Kidd’s ceramics are a meditation through petrification on the obstinate, petrified past. On degrees of permanence, from the basalt and granite of Sliabh Dónairt and Murlach to the bog of Dregish he references the dug and quarried past. The chipping and scarring of hammer and chisel on rock, the slice of the peat-iron. Stark and delicate, his porcelain pieces testify to memory, to negative space, absence, removal. Like a script etched into stone.
These new works and objects are born of a past that precedes, recedes and survives us. Washed up, buried, recovered, preserved. They re-present the recent and the ancient in a new context. The place on which we all stand.
Head of Visual Arts & Literature
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