Featuring: Aqsa Arif – Flora Lawrence – Jacob Littlejohn – Michaela McManus –
Danielle Metcalfe-Shaw – Kieran Muir – Holly Osborne – Matthew Rimmer – Rosa Quadrelli
Exhibition Opening: Thursday 23rd January, 6-8pm
Exhibition Continues: 24th January – 2nd Feb 2020. Open every day 12-4pm (12-6pm Thursdays)
This latest showcase from Circus features 9 recent Painting and Printmaking graduates from Glasgow School of Art. Circus’ last intern, Holly Osborne, grew up in the Highlands and returned after 10 years in Glasgow. Her ongoing support from Circus has allowed her to curate a show and has been an opportunity to bring emerging artists from a range of disciplines to exhibit north of the central belt. Including painting, drawing, sculpture and ceramics, the show explores a variety of themes, from theatrical materiality, human consequence, post internet existence and the mundane, yet fun and fantastical qualities of life.
Aqsa Arifs practice questions the characteristics of cinema making it a successful medium for creative growth and implementing those elements within a gallery context - the light/dark dichotomy, the surround sound and the focus on one narrative for a prolonged time. She works with a variety of mediums - video, sound, sculpture, printmaking and poetry - to construct a space which has many facets that the viewer can journey through. Film plays a large role within the work – the structure, editing, sound and narrative. It informs how she thinks, researches ideas and the way she works with other materials.
The work looks at the human element which exists in most films. Arif investigates the toll it takes on the character to live within this cycle of narrative repetition. The female character is frozen in time and is physically transformed by her repetitive journey. The medium in which she lives shifts around her and the void of her own reflection grows. This character is always being viewed, yet in the work she is trapped in a state of passivity as her surroundings change. This journey is mimicked by the viewer who watch themselves, watch the character, watch them. Arif aims to highlight the contradiction in our viewing habits using materials such as mirrors. A relationship between the art and the onlooker is formed within the work.
Flora Lawrence moved to Glasgow in 2013 and graduated from the Glasgow School of Art’s Painting and Printmaking department in 2018. She has established a studio space in the East End of the city and lives and works in Glasgow.
Atmospheric, arresting and gestural paintings form the basis of Lawrence’s current collection of work. Working with oils, oil-based mediums and gloss varnishes, her practice explores painting and mark making as a visual language that articulates challenges and frustrations with orders, process and memory.
Lawrence works in series, creating pairs and triptychs and her works have a repetitive approach not only in scale, but also in the application of paint vertically and horizontally. The painting featured in Above the Belt for the Circus Arts Space in Inverness was made in 2018 and is part of an ongoing series of larger paintings she hopes to show this year in Edinburgh.
Since graduating she has had a show in Bellshill for CultureNL and a number of her works have been featured in BBC1’s drama Shetland, in Season 2 of HBOs hit drama Succession and an American film starting Kathie lee Gifford and Craig Ferguson previewing this year.
Jacob Littlejohns practice explores the realm of human behaviour, using the theatre as a metaphorical framework to explore the ways humans interact with one another and what they choose to present of themselves. His process evolves round a profound interest in medium, technique, composition and colour.
Through the abstraction of everyday objects, theatrical props and the environments in which they are found, the work attempts to push the viewer to reconsider the original properties of such objects and the environments in which they inhabit, so that they become at once a spectator and a performer within the work. To assert complete control of composition and individuality, Littlejohn begins by making 4D sculptural models, in order to create his own visual influences and triggers. This signifies multiple layers of performance taking place within the creation of each individual artwork, making each piece unique and susceptible to surrounding dominating factors.
Littlejohns work touches on abstract expressionism and the theatricality found in experiencing and unveiling of works of art. The central motifs include abstractions of windows, stages and curtains, which act as physical and metaphorical barriers that either protect or expose intimate emotions and ideologies. The work frequently suggests a kind of infinity beyond and behind it, as though what is being seen is but a loosely, elegantly realised fragment of a much larger image.
His work begins with exploration of the tension between the hidden and the revealed, the experience of the audience is wholly wrapped up in his creative process. He aims to trigger the sublime. It is deeply dependent on the ontological experience shared with the audience, whether it be an overwhelming or ambivalent one.
Michaela McManus is a visual artist based in Dornoch Street Studios, Glasgow. Her practice explores both personal memory and wider themes concerning the artifice and fragmentation of our post-modern, post-net era. Rooted in the relationship between the inaccessible and the non-existent, she uses the imagined landscape to represent the psychological space where memories are retraced. Contemplating our exposure to the reproduced image, she investigates the photograph as a prompt for recollection and the relationship between the gestural painting mark and the graphic image. Using film and the photograph’s material relation to time, the medium of collage allows her to create imagery through a process of isolation while challenging the role of technology in modern memory and archiving.
Danielle Metcalfe-Shaw is a figurative oil painter, her main focus within her practise is depicting interactions between people and place. Her work is made using techniques directly linked to classical oil painting. Underpainting was traditionally used by The Old Master’s, functioning as a base layer to develop a plan for colour placement. However, Metcalfe-Shaw uses this technique in close reference to the photograph, mapping out areas of light and shadow. Her works display humble actions, cropped from snapshots and lacking in context. Emphasising details bound to the materiality of the photograph, her work gives gestural movement to the static image.
Kieran Muirs current practice revolves around the fashioning of absurd cultural artefacts from imagined worlds and events. These bizarre parallel universes are primarily explored through a variety of craft techniques: ceramics, glass and textiles, as well as drawing and sculpture. Making use of recurring motifs and imagery which link these objects to this world of the medieval carnival. The carnivalesque power to invert and subvert social hierarchies is at the core of his investigation, with naïve crafts presented under the guise of “fine art” arguing for their right to exist in the gallery space.
While the work seeks to question the legitimate place of craft in the realm of fine art, it also seeks to poke fun and invoke the humorous and irreverent spirit of the carnivalesque, drawing the viewer from the often reserved environment of the gallery into the fun and frenzy of the carnival.
Holly Osborne reflects on stereotypes, ideals and mundanity, using drawing and painting as a vehicle. She is a collector of images, gathering material from a range of different sources - stock photos, screenshots, vintage knitting patterns, adverts, social media, etc. Osbornes artistic practice draws from contemporary sources, finding images mostly from online. She engages with our relationship to image in the PostInternet condition, working from photos taken from television, her phone or even directly from the moving image on screen as life drawing. Recent works have been exploring the idea of the nuclear family. Staged, awkward figures come into play, questioning our aspirations. Engaging with a disquieting humour, she aims to unsettle and seduce with these darkly comical characters. Crude yet witty depictions that grasp the fallacy of image and our perception of others.
She is a drawer and painter primarily, often working with very basic materials like cheap felt pens and pencils then translating these seemingly unsophisticated figures into oil paintings. She considers these paintings as large-scale drawings, adopting smaller brushes to recreate the feeling of scribbling on paper. Recent works have been thinly painted, blurring and bleeding, layered up and rubbed back. Although fascinated by flat image, she maintains a strong observational drawing practice, drawing objects and capturing family members around the home.
Osborne currently lives and works in the Highlands.
Matthew Rimmers practice is currently informed by aquariums, aquascaping (the artistic design of aquarium landscapes) and their online subculture. From this, fascination has developed for the idea of separate worlds existing in domestic settings that are subject to human responsibility, and how the eluding nature of aquatic environments emphasises these surreal spaces. His work speaks for the mysteries of our submerged environment, tackling the ethereal experience of interacting with its anthropomorphised form in aquaristics and responding through abstract impressions, creating sculpture, paintings and drawings that seek to break the disciplinary boundaries between the mediums.
In our rapidly changing ecosphere, elementary awareness is vital before we experience the true extent of their power. This is one reason why Rimmer works with water; to deal with it as a material, gaining a better understanding of how it both supports life and poses a danger to it. Rimmer is now embarking on new concepts in relation to this, currently attempting to make aquatic enclosures that benefit the animals within them as much or more than the viewing audience through his environmental sculpture project ‘Biotopes’, which will be developed in the current and upcoming opportunities of exhibiting at The Briggait, GoMA, and Edinburgh Science Festival.
Since graduating Rimmer was selected for the RSA New Contemporaries exhibition in March 2019, where he won the Chalmers-Jervise Prize. He lives and works in Glasgow.
‘Theatre of Memories’ is the name given to a collection of puppets and dolls created by Quadrelli during the past five years. These characters, both mundane and fantastical, include depictions of important people in her life, satirical caricatures of historical figures, and strange beings symbolic of more abstract thoughts and emotions. She uses these figures to recreate memories, depict relationships, and personify opposing elements within her psyche. She approaches these ideas through a variety of media, including drawing, painting, photography, film and installation.
Quadrelli is primarily influenced by the works of Paula Rego, José Gutiérrez-Solana and Jan Švankmajer who all explore the thin line between the humorous and the macabre in a style which is often unsettling. Eastern arts of storytelling such as Japanese Bunraku puppet theatre, Kamishibai. and Chinese Shadow theatre have also left their unique mark on her work.
Quadrelli is currently working from her studio in Glasgow where she is continuing a series of works she began during her artist residency at Leith School of Art last year. Her recent work concerns itself with the idea of ‘blind faith’ and takes on the narrative of a fictional Scottish island where the inhabitants have deified the rabid, inbred dogs that live there.
About Circus Artspace:
Circus Artspace is an artist run gallery in Inverness.
CIRCUS is a collective of practising, professional artists and producers committed to making contemporary art accessible to a broader Highland audience as well as supporting recent art graduates from our area. We are all based in Inverness and work across many different disciplines including painting, printmaking, sculpture, film and performance.