18 March 2010

p x 3 +j = ?..... erm..... 3pj

Mathmatical equations aside.

I travelled from almost sunny Walderslade to actually properly sunny Whitstable, the Horsebridge arts centre to be precise. In Gallery one the above equation was explained: 3 Phils and 1 Jan or Phil Gomm (tutorphil), Phill Hoskins (Photoshop Phill), Phil Cooper and Jan Groszer to be precise.

Between them they are exhibiting a selection of works from the genres of photography, sculpture and painting.Phil G and Jan are showing a variety of photographic studies, Phill H some sculptures and a couple of paintings, whilst Phil C has some mixed media paintings on show.

I'll start with Phill H first. A series of ten heads adorn the far wall of the gallery, how ever I see spaces for two more. Is their absence intentional, by feat of accident or do they not exist but in the artists mind?

The heads are a series of character studies, each probably no more than 10cm in height, and finished in white. The delicate sculpting manages to capture the anatomy as well as the character of these individuals, and they range from what appear to sincere studies to 4 superheroes with the appropriate exaggerations. Rendered in white we are able to see the subtle nuances of the sculpt including rake marks and sections where the clay has been added.

My personal favourite of these is the pilot, with his old-school flying helmet and goggles he exudes the appropriate arrogance that is topped of with a cheeky wink ... good show old fellow.

Phill's contribution is completed by two (oil?) paintings, these are both vibrant works that seem to draw influence fom Kandinsky and Klee. Within the the mix of chequers, organic and geometric shapes I see landscapes and cities dancing with vibrant hues, the Alizarin Crimson/ Rose Madder and Ochre particuarly stand out.

Phil C has brought along several mixed media painting, these are a parting gift to Whitstable as he is set to depart to (sunnier ?) climes.

With these images he sets out to capture the autumn and winter that we have just endured/ enjoyed, taking the majority of his inspiration from woodland and hedge-rows seasonal pigments form undualting textures across the canvas, muted woody tone are contrasted with autumnal oranges. I was left wanting more which can only be a good sign.

Jan is exhibiting with two sets of photographs, of, what at first appear to be very different subjects. There is a certain strident quality covering all of Jan's work, a particular confidence in the way he engages with his subjects.

Totems are a collection of studies taken from Dungeness. In this collection Jan focuses on what appear to strange collections of mechanical parts that linger in this desolate environment. Echoing the heads on Easter Island they stand as a testament to what could be seen as a forgotten race or time. The scars that have been left by the elements on these strange creations depict the masterful nature of the environment within which they reside.

The textures are simply stunning (pay attention all you CG artists), the decay that threatens to over-run the totems is contrasted with the taught mechanical shapes as they are singled out against either the powder blue or the slate grey of the sky. Only once we reach Totem 9 is the purpose of these icons revealed.

Jan's second set of images are also environment based, here he explores the relationship of his flat in Hackney as he prepares to leave for pastures new. The series of stark black and white self portrait can at first seem brutal in their honesty and openess, combined with Jan's text they take on a sublter more poignant context, within them they hold emotions that at some time we have all felt at the parting of ways. Jan has a blog also.... check it out


Last but by no means least we have our venerable lecturer Phil Gomm. Oh dear Phil no 16:9 format....tut, tut. Mr Gomm's contribution consists of a collection of horticultural portraits. Starting with puple and violet the series runs through cream into yellow finally culminating in sensuous reds and oranges.

Did you have to use the Latin names for the titles lol.

These pictures transform the flowers concerned from what could be seem as horticultural studies to something much more dramatic, something that captures the nature of the plant more succinctly than any dry study could ever hope to achieve.

They hold qualities that are more than those of simple photographs, colours dance across the paper dipping in and out of focus in a way that should seem vague and unrevealing. However this is not the case from within these blurred abstract flows areas of detail and vibrancy arise to draw us in and demonstrate the alienness of these floral marvels.

Bold colours form a graphic sensation in Anemone Coronaria, concentric circles of green and purple create a joyous vibrancy, thes explode in a burst of violet stars in Allum Aflatuneuse, getting closer to this image you can pick up the fine details of the flowers. The colours become more muted and the shapes mopre painterly in Astrantia Major as delicate petals emerge from a shifting miasma to from a graceful dance with their tranluscency. Following this is Foeuiculum Vulgare, clusters of cream shapes close together as if in debate admidst a sea of green and purple. Suddenly living and breathing the muted yellow of Eremurus Stenophyllus breaks onto its gool grey background, extending the phallic anthers it strives to be free of its confines. Finally with have the erotically sensuous folds of Eschscholzia Calorfornica, the warm red and orange petals unfold to reveal the yellow fire within.

I could write more and elaborate on what I have said already but duty calls and I have to pick the youngest up from nursery (real life and all).

It was good to Whitstable, and thanks to the guys for putting on a varied show.


  1. Dear Simon,

    I'm so touched that you bothered to show up - and to write such extravangant prose! :-) It means a lot - and you could have slated it! Hope all is well with you? Email me with news re. your conversations with MPW... anyway, we need to discuss next year...

  2. I said I would lol, I could have slated it, if I could have found something to slate. Would have been nice to see some more from the other two Phils, but that isn't to say the photographers hogged the limelight. The only downside was I didn't see the ones yopu guys put in the window till I was leaving, (I came in the other way) and the sun was on them. Oh and a rather strange middle aged woman who giggled, blushed and then left after seeing Jan's self portraits, at her age you thought she might have seen a naked man before lol

  3. Looking forward to visiting tomorrow...

  4. Hey Simon, just saw your review of our show, very touched also with your in depth response. It was all a bit of a rush and heavily process driven in the end. My original aim was to get make 50 plaster heads sculpted and on the wall but as the pieces developed I refined them down to my favorites, at least they started as 25 lumps of clay anyway. As I'm digital sculpting full time now I truly relish the opportunity to get my hands on real materials as often as possible. Sorry we didn't get a chance to meet at the show but I'm sure our paths will cross at the collage in September. Hope your work enquiries are hotting up and some leads are presenting themselves. All the best and keep posting the work. Phill