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Where You Are Not

Exhibition Essay

Written with Tatiana Martin


‘For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go’

-    Rebecca Solnit, ‘A Field Guide To Getting Lost’.



Where You Are Not explores the colour blue through the eyes of eight contemporary artists working across painting, photography and sculpture. Throughout history, blue has been a colour of both intrigue and veneration, used for its symbolism and emotional intensity. Artists, philosophers and writers have continuously elevated blue, and often made it a subject matter in itself. From being once reserved for the highest of religious subjects, through to Picasso’s blue period, Carol Mavor’s ‘Blue Mythologies’, Yves Klein’s creation of International Klein Blue and Solnit’s ‘Blue of Distance’; the recurrence of blue reveals both its elusive and captivating nature. 


The way in which blue washes over distance, and shows you ‘where you are not’, reflects the properties of time, passing by and washing over memory. Time, and the act of documenting time, runs as a physical and conceptual thread throughout the exhibition. As Alexander Mourant writes, ‘the immensity found in the colour blue encourages deeper reflections on our past, present and future’. ‘Blue is not only a colour, but a place in itself’. Matilda Little’s portraits of forgotten figurines, whose shapes morph as she recreates them over and over again, shows the memory of the initial object falling into the past. Tom Pope’s mixed media pieces use the repetition of an action over time to create one surface containing many moments. Maddie Rose Hills’s densely layered paintings encapsulate her lengthy process, where each piece is left over a long period of time, then revisited with one single layer of blue, thus highlighting the distance of the original work. These artists gesture towards the process of time passing through the repetition and continuous addition of blue.


Where You Are Not explores ‘the blue at the far edge of what can be seen’, so presents the viewer with their own distance from the art. Simone Mudde uses photographic processes as a way of generating colour from nothing, and her folds work to create the illusion of literal depth. Mudde’s works are an avenue in her search for the unknown. Florence Sweeney’s work also transcends what is real, as well as the boundaries between painting and sculpture, in order to create what she describes as ‘metaphysical terrains, and a dreamy state of mind’. Sweeney’s works also conjure up the memories of her mother’s blue glass & ceramic collection, forming ‘a sea of blue’. The painted, textural surfaces of Katrina Russell-Adam’s sculptures look both heavy and light, as if they could be made of any material. Tess Williams’s tactile paintings, which contain a sculptural quality through creases and folds, also work to draw the viewer closer to examine the surface. The artists confront the viewer with the untouchability of the art object, and the distance one must keep in a gallery context. The viewer is drawn back from the art by the distance each artist asserts. 


Where You Are Not displays the memories and private worlds that each artist has imagined, distanced and presented surrounding the colour blue. The exhibition explores the passing of memories and time, where blue becomes both ‘the color of that distance (and) the color of an emotion’, revealing to the viewer a place where we are not.

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