Water Rising: making art in storm and calm

9 March - 1 June

The sluice gate which forms a barrier between the Purfleet River, on which the Gallery sits and the Great Ouse, the tidal river which brought King’s Lynn its trade

Annie Turner’s ceramic sculptures relate to her life-time’s experience living close to the River Deben in Suffolk. Her work reflects on the technology of the river, and the kinds of artefacts created to maintain it, to retain its banks, control its flow and harvest its bounty.

Annie Turner, Mussel Bed, ceramic.

Roger Coulam, formerly a world renowned storm-chasing photographer has done a spectacular series of stormy images of lighthouses on the North-East Coast around Tynemouth.

Roger Coulam trained initially in environmental science, and turned professional as a photographer in 2003. The images on show here are from a large series of photographs made by the artist of the kinds of storms shown in the historic postcards represented in Susan Hiller’s Rough Moonlit Nights. Indeed he used to collect such postcards himself. Now he is based largely in the North-East of England around Sunderland concentrating on his creative practice. His interests have ranged widely in the natural and historic environment and he has also made many series of semi-abstract images inspired by archaeological remains, details of nature and landscape.

Roger Coulam, Seaham.

Stewart Hearn’s large glass bottles are intentionally reminiscent of archaeological finds, being based on Roman and medieval glass dredged from the River Thames. These bottles were originally made for a Thames River Festival but have become an ongoing series.

Sophie Marritt, Great Ouse 1, Watercolour and pencil on paper. Sophie Marritt has painted a series of haunting and delicate pictures of the local watery area around King's Lynn and the Wash, reflecting on the proximities of industry and open landscape.


Spring exhibition

Water Rising: 9 March - 1 June

GroundWork Gallery sits directly on a river, the Purfleet, which is is tributary of the Great Ouse which we can see from our windows. We are in a flood plain and water is both our benevolent neighbour, having for centuries brought the trade and commerce which is the source of the Town’s wealth, and its greatest threat, in our current era of climate change.

An exhibition about water is topical and timely. United Kingdom Climate Projections 2018, predict that sea level will rise by 1.15 metres by 2100, enough to submerge London. https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/collaboration/ukcp/

We need to think carefully how to meet this challenge.

Water Rising: making art in storm and calm, features works by artists who are thinking about the resourcefulness we need as we live with water. How do we save water? How do we pit our strength against water? What happens when water threatens to engulph us? How do we cope when there is too much or too little water?

Simon Faithfull’s film, ‘Going Nowhere 1.5’ shows a lone man in a yellow suit walking doggedly around an intertidal island. We see the figure walk around the decreasing space, as the sea expands around him, until the sea is all we see.

Peter Matthews on a recent drawing trip to Chile. The artist makes durational drawings while he is submerged in the ocean and paintings using the elements, the sea and local pigments and stones. Here he is throwing a canvas into the water.

Peter Matthews 12 hours in and with the Pacific Ocean (Chile), 2018

The exhibition includes work by Lynn Dennison, Simon Faithfull, Stewart Hearn, Susan Hiller, Peter Matthews, Annie Turner, Roger Coulam. Many more will be included in discussions and workshops during the course of the exhibition.

Peter Mathews was born in Derby, lives in Leicestershire and regards Cornwall as his spiritual home. He has a natural affinity with the sea, but spent much of his youth exploring the countryside, enjoying solitude as he explored the forests and rivers of Derbyshire. Matthews has created his work in the earth's oceans, Cornwall, Hawaii, Chile, Taiwan. In doing so, he can spend long periods—ranging from hours to days - floating or submerging in the ocean, bobbing in the water. He keeps his artistic media either cached in his hat or strapped to his wrists or ankles. This includes charcoal, pencil, oil stick and gel pens. The surfaces he draws on can range from paper to canvas sheeting, pinned to "old piece of plywood" which acts both as drawing board and flotation device. This method also allows him to explore—in his words—"the fluid midpoint between sea and land, thought and form.”

Mathews exhibits internationally - in Italy, Germany, United States, as well as extensively in the UK, recently at the John Moore’s in Liverpool. He has lectured in the US and been artist in residence at the Scripps Institute of oceanography. Currently he has won an Arts Council grant in order to create a new body of work for a solo exhibition at the National Maritime Museum.

Dress, sea; a video installation by Lynn Dennison. The artist performs this mysterious ritual, walking slowly into shallow waters of the sea, until she is submerged. The work makes an interesting parallel to Simon Faithfull’s ‘Going Nowhere 1.5’ and in the gallery they are seen opposite each other.

Susan Hiller, Rough Moonlit Nights, 2015 (Courtesy Lisson Gallery)

Susan Hiller grew up in America, with formative study in film, photography and anthropology. Her diverse practice through sculpture and installation, sound, video, photography, assemblage and collage, often tackled human psychology, the paranormal, the impulse to collect and convey powerful experiences as a result. Her work is reckoned to be very influential on younger artists and she had solo exhibitions at Baltic Gateshead, Tate Liverpool, Tate Britain and exhibited extensively in Europe and America She is represented by Matts Gallery and the Lisson Gallery, London.

Sadly, the artist Susan Hiller, a key exhibitor in Water Rising, died during the preparation for the show. She was pleased to be part of it. We will miss her presence but are privileged still to be able to enjoy her considerable legacy in her wonderful dramatic work.