We are not in the least afraid of ruins

Ruins flier jpg

Friday the 13th of Sept at 6.30pm sees the launch of my first solo show. The exhibition will take place in gage gallery at Kelham Island Arts Collective, where I have a studio. gage is a 25 metre by 7.5 metre space with a glass ceiling and whitewashed brick walls. Appropriately, gage, like KIAC, sits in a dilapidated former factory come steel works amid a jumble of small engineering, arts and music businesses sharing this industrial hinterland. Appropriately to the title of the exhibition at least, though in choosing the title I was more mindful of its origin, as part of a response by Buenaventura Durruti to the Toronto Star journalist Pierre Van Passen. Durruti was referring to the dereliction that the Spanish Anarchists would inherit if they won, and reminding Van Passen that the workers grew up in ruins, and built the world – to build another was not so great a challenge.

In thinking of the quote I realised that it was not merely a challenge, it was also an observation. As a species, we are marked by our willingness to destroy and rebuild, to attempt to shape our environment to our immediate needs and means, and it is not ruins that we fear, as long as they don’t involve our own personal ruin. Our history has been marked, and our development encouraged, by our willingness to let go the past and to constantly recreate. The consequences are not always fruitful, and our eyes seldom able to see beyond the immediacy of our leap, but from the slash and burn approach that accompanied our drift from hunter-gatherer, to the alacrity of our abandonment of industry in favour of the financial markets, destruction and ruins have been the building blocks of our world.

‘We are not in the least afraid of ruins’ references this behaviour, and the lives that have been devoted to making it possible, those of the workers whose work we take for granted, who built for us whilst living in ruins. Created in a post-industrial landscape littered with reminders of the past, the work encourages us to examine the mode and pace of our development and also to recognise it’s cost.

I am also pleased to announce that appearing alongside ‘ruins’ will be a small exhibition of paintings by the London artist Jenny Steel. Jenny has been a source of inspiration and support for me throughout my creative development, and her work (of which ‘Sundown’ is shown below) will feature as an oasis of light and colour in the midst of destruction, reminding us that our world is light as well as dark.

sundown

The exhibition lasts for two weeks, running 11am – 4pm Saturday 14th, Sunday 15th plus weekdays until the 27th September. The opening night, to which all are welcome, will be Friday 13th Sept 6.30pm. gage gallery is at Lion Works, Ball Street, Sheffield S3 8DB

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2 thoughts on “We are not in the least afraid of ruins

  1. I liked the association of the slash and burn approach with both hunter-gatherer and financial markets. We should be anthropologists looking at our own (or the bankers) exotic practices. I am intrigued by post-industrial landscapes and very much liked the two artworks you have here (one in the flyer). I am sorry that I will be unable to come to your exhibition (too far), but I hope it goes well. Best wishes.

    • Many thanks. I absolutely agree with you about the need to examine our practices, and hopefully learn from them. As an artist I have always sought to be a part of that process, and hope that my work does cause the viewer to stop and consider both the sustainability of our development, and the strength of the foundations that support it. I will be creating.a gallery of the 30+ (not quite decided yet) pieces that I will be showing once the opening night is done, and whilst a digital image is never quite able to convey the reality of a painting, I hope you will enjoy being able to view the work on this site.
      Best regards
      John

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