mid-morning in the scriptorium
30 June - 5 August 2023
and until 31 August by appointment
Collaborative Collage Workshop with Kate Dunn
Sunday 6 August, 11.00 - 12.00
Age 3 - 8 years
£5 + booking fee
Kate Dunn in conversation with Rachel Howard
Thursday 24 August, 18.30 - 19.30
£5 + booking fee
TJ Boulting is delighted to present our second solo show with Kate Dunn. mid-morning in the scriptorium is a new body of work that embraces visual languages of multiplicity, dissociation, and fracture, moving away from the action painting and altarpieces which characterised Dunn’s previous exhibition The Tabernacle (2021).
The exhibition’s title is taken from a poem written by the artist in the summer of 2022. In the poem, a monk becomes enveloped by a swarm of flies and eaten alive while working on an illuminated manuscript - an analogy for the isolation and slow, detailed study required to make such documents. Over the course of a year, Dunn’s practice shifted from the large paintings which characterised The Tabernacle, to small, detailed pieces. Dunn made this decision to change her working method consciously, forcing herself to move away from grand gestural pieces and work in a focussed manner at her studio desk. During this period Dunn chose the theory of ‘horror vacui’ - the notion that each page should be entirely filled, with no white space left visible - as the starting point for the new material. What resulted was a series of six dense compositions in which multiple artistic identities co-exist on a single surface. The gallery space is transformed by paintings recalling the trompe l’oeil of Renaissance architecture, with specific devotion to San Marco in Florence and the frescoes of Fra Angelico, whose similar intense dedication saw him saying a prayer each time he lifted the paintbrush.
Dunn’s previous works in The Tabernacle involved the role of UV light and gabber music. They played on an optical illusion through the harsh transition between florescence and the void. These new works are without UV but continue with spacial optics, focussing on the potential of dissociative space. They are characterised by a magpie-like quality; fragments of seemingly different images appear side-by-side yet purposefully distinct, an effect intended to bring attention back to the stylistic genre and materiality of each section. As such, this apparently paradoxical approach to space and narrative reveals itself to be a concerted interrogation of modern visual identity - both the lived experience of individuals and the identity of contemporary artistic works. The sound element remains but is now a buzzing noise, similar to that of the cicadas mentioned Dunn’s poem.
Following this exploration of more intimate scale, Dunn returned to the creation of larger works. These pieces, of which four feature in mid-morning in the scriptorium, have a direct relationship with Dunn’s body. Rather than spending the days hunched over a desk, now giant marks birthed the canvases. At points Dunn would give herself up to working on intuition - scribbling furiously, rolling naked across the canvas, or allowing white space to enter the paintings once more.
Whether at small or large scale, each piece in mid-morning in the scriptorium contains multiple perspectives and materials. Pigment, oil, pencil, acrylic, spray paint and more intermingle on each of Dunn’s surfaces. In parts one finds detailed figurative colour pencil drawings, taken from sources such as Renaissance paintings, books in Dunn’s studio and images on her phone. In others we see bold lines delving into the picture plane, a visual language that spans the centuries from perspectival maestro Uccello to 90s rave posters. By Dunn scaling up the graphic lines of perspective from the smaller works, the large paintings of mid-morning in the scriptorium feel like portals to other dimensions.
mid-morning in the scriptorium seeks freedom not through singularity but through multiplicity. Embracing a cacophony of popular culture and art historical references, the exhibition gorges on its base materials, eschewing caution to instead make swift decisions and follow through on them - multiple times in the space of a single canvas. The collage works deal with questions of discovery - both how engaging with distinct visual languages leads to discovering differing versions of the self, and also whether such discovery ultimately brings fulfilment.
Sound by Fred M-G @fredmgfmg
For more information please contact Hannah Watson firstname.lastname@example.org