Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Circling round art

Garry Fabian Miller: Gilded (image from here)
We finally went to the Turner Contemporary to see Seeing round corners, an exhibition which had aroused my curiosity when I read Laura Cumming's review some four months ago.  What a fascinating collection of circular examples, what a thought-provoking exhibition.  It stimulated many ideas which will carry momentum and have me looking and thinking for some time.
The ideas of circularity are not simply perfectly round, but have round-ness in their concept.  One piece which particularly appealed to me was a vitrine by Edmund De Waal, called Littoral (shown below, image from here).
The form of the vitrine is severe, tall, angular, heavy in aspect, but within there is a small pile of delicate black saucers, hand formed, wonky, but elegantly precious, defiantly circular resisting the oppression of their container.
Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels photographs (image above from here) take three dimensional cylinders and make them into fascinating two dimensional images, and I was delighted to find her poem The world through a circle too.
(image above from here)
A woodblock moon which delighted me was by Tsukioa Yositoshi: Moon and smoke.  The moon occurs in several Japanese woodblock prints, but I was intrigued by the juxtaposition of the element of fire as well as the aspect of the figure in this one (image from here).
An animated circle was represented by another artist who like Nancy Holt I have not thought about for too long: Rebecca Horn.  I enjoyed her White body fan photographs, especially as it was the angled ones rather than the full face open circle that were shown (image from here).
Another photographic item, or trio of photographs which intrigued and delighted me were by Barry Flanagan - his Hole in the sea (image from here).  These were taken from a film Flanagan made of the tide coming in to cover a Perspex tube he had placed in the water.  It is astonishing how indeed it looks like a hole in the sea.
Paul Nash's Circle of Monoliths was placed on the wall next to a great circle of slate: Blaenou Ffestiniog Circle by Richard Long, each enhancing the other. 
We associate standing stones with circles mostly, and so even without the explicit title, if the painting does not show their circular position it evokes the thought.  Long's pieces of slate are arranged to fill a circular space which is not literally described, but is immediately obvious to the eye.
There are so many interesting exhibits in the whole show, some more of which are shown in this vimeo film, and here is another review.  it is a brilliant idea for an art exhibition which informs, provokes, delights, and makes all sorts of connections for everyone to take away, subsequently add to oneself, and ponder at leisure.


  1. Despite living less than 30 minutes away, I haven't revisited Turner Contemporary since we moved. Thanks so much for the reminder that this exhibition closes soon - I've booked my train tickets for Friday!

    1. Yes, we left it a bit late too. I was wishing that the exhibition was much nearer to me because I would love to visit it again and again.
      I hope that you enjoy it.

  2. What a wonderful exhibition. I have seen some of these pieces before: Nancy Holt's Tunnels I saw at Warwick University and was fascinated by the conceptual aspects of her work and would love to see more of it. On another occasion, I also saw Long's slate circle there. I love De Waal's work but always feel ambiguous about his vitrines, but the one you have shown here is one I could live with. Flannaga's Hole in the Sea is absolutely fascinating, I just love the whole idea of it. Horn's White Body Fan photographs are fun and at the same time fascinating.

    Another exhibition I will unfortunately miss...

    1. There were just so many attractive, fascinating, and thought-provoking pieces in the whole exhibition. The theme itself is something that I continue to think about.