I popped into York this afternoon to catch a couple of exhibitions. A Matter of Life and Death, an installation by Julian Stair in York St Mary's and Across the North Sea: An exhibition of Photographs by Fay Godwin with Anna Lilleengen at Janette Ray Rare Books, Bootham, York, where Lotte Inch has her latest "pop up".
http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/video/128725/read/ has a brief explanation of Julian Stair's exhibition and a link to a video of the artist talking about his work.
The exhibition is very simple with examples of funerary vessels from different ages found in the area of York interspersed with Julian Stair's own response to the subject. I was intrigued by the gritty quality of some of the clay he chose to use and was interested to read that he used brick clay for some of the pieces. I enjoyed the rings of dark and light red clay in some of the pieces but found most of the work very sombre compared to the decorated vessels from the past, some of which were worked to represent actual faces. While Stair's pieces had a certain presence and gravitas, I would have loved them to be decorated like the ancient pieces on display; our reaction to death in this country is so serious and it could do with an injection of joyous decoration to lighten us all up and help us to understand death as part of the process of life itself. That's my opinion anyway, I couldn't help wondering how Grayson Perry would have responded to the same material/subject. . .
There are two pieces available to read about the photography being exhibited at Janette Ray Rare books, which are much more eloquent on the subject of photography than I can be:
I'm glad I saw these photographs; I particularly enjoyed Fay Godwin's beautiful landscapes with the strong tonal qualities and textures and felt that framing them in white was so much more successful than the black that most photographers seem to choose; the work had enough white space around it and with the white frames I felt that they had space to "breathe". They are so well seen, the shots framed and chosen with such obvious care and dedication to her craft and the prints are razor sharp; you can almost smell the air. Lilleengen's work is more recent, utilising older technology, I felt like I was peering through the darkness of a tunnel into a mysterious and separate world that didn't want to reveal itself. Interesting, but I preferred the dramatic and abstract qualities of Godwin's pieces.
It was good to see Lotte again; I met her a couple of weeks ago in a meeting with the Ryedale ArtWorks committee to discuss the possibility of working with her to produce a pop up exhibition in York. We are really looking forward to collaborating with her, she has lots of experience in the field of pop up galleries and bags of energy and ideas. Our type of person!