Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Stains and Traces III - Hastings Arts Forum

Stains and Traces has become a tradition for Hastings Arts Forum and the third exhibition on this theme opened on the 7th February.
The idea of "representing the presence or absence of a figure,  as well as anthropomorphic echoes and resonances", originated with former HAF chairman, Ian Welsh, who does in 2014.
Curated from open submissions,  this edition of the show has thirteen participating artists who once more encompass the diversity of mediums and messages that seems to be a hallmark of the Hastings Arts Forum.
As might be expected with such a theme, there are dark resonances in some of the work here. Jo Welsh presents object, collage and print works that communicate trauma and loss associated with illness and death. Her references to X-Rays and personal objects in the collaged print works are delicate and moving while ‘Widow’s Weeds’ and her object boxes have a much starker impact.

Sally Meakins’ photographic series also depicts objects and scenes associated with an absent person. It  signals not only their physical absence but also the complex emotions relating to such a  oss. This is very effective particularly in the large and haunting image ‘Your shirt on my chair’.

Lorrain Mailer addresses issues of post-traumatic stress in two very different pieces. ‘The Elephant in the Room’ is an intestinal tangle of knotted sheets suggesting both the physical and mental impact of alcoholism. ‘Blow a kiss, Fire a Gun’ is an empathetic homage to the desperation of refugees attempting to escape from the trauma of war.

Caroline Sax uses her multifarious mediums with sublime delicacy to draw attention to the amount of packaging waste that ends up in the ocean. Detailed statistics are stencilled onto treated and painted fabric and then covered with objects that instantly communicate the sheer volume of container shipping that is on the seas at any given time.

Artists who focus specifically on the human figure in this show include Raymond McChrystal whose ink and graphite portraits and nudes are subtle, sympathetic and occasionally seem to morph seamlessly into physical landscapes.

This merging of nature and figure is also apparent in the work of Kathleen Fox who has placed long strips of Australian paper bark against vibrant backgrounds allowing for multiple visual interpretations.  Trisha Neve’s delicate silk paintings similarly have multiple possibilities.

The remarkable tale told by Nigel Oxley needs some time to fully appreciate. In a series of 6 images he tells of a love affair conducted across a gulag wall in Poland and recreated here using the letters, objects and photos found after his fathers’ death. He has provided folders for viewers to read that provide not only the background to this story but also translations of the letters and words that appear in the image series.

Brian Rybolt’s photographs are very much about the stains and traces that are left behind in the structures of abandoned buildings and on walls. In many of these beautifully presented images, places and spaces often regarded as sad, neglected and ugly are shown to be resilient and full of their own defiant character

There is not much painting in this show but Sean Madden’s confident use of colour and paintwork provides an anchor against which Yvette Glaze’s architectural ceramics sit beautifully. Mark Glassman’s traces of figures almost washed away by the browns of the shingle and the sea work well with the more conceptual pieces in Gallery 2.

The final artist in this show is Jacob Welsh but I had to leave before his work was hung so I’m afraid he’s missing. If anyone can send me an image I will put it up.

7 Feb – 19 Feb 
Private View: 10 Feb, 6.30 - 8.30pm 

Click on names for links to artist websites where I could find them:

Caroline Sax
Jo Welsh
Jacob Welsh
Sally Meakins