Midnight Spelunking

A joint exhibition with Nick Phillips

23rd September – 2nd October 2022

© Nick Phillips

It’s hard to say why people engage in a dialogue. Maybe because they believe they can better themselves or gain something. The exchange between Nick and I, in these terms, makes no exception.
Our encounter took place in a time of anti-climax, for both of us: in my case, the return from my artistic residency – a particularly meaningful one – combined with the crumbling of several certitudes I had given for granted; for Nick, the end of his Fine Art MA and the need to reroot his practice in a different environment and time structure.
Using different expressive means – mostly painting and photography for Nick and hybrid sculpture and assemblage for me – our works seem to share some common language and the starting points of our researches lie in a rather similar type of ground.
My latest body of work, certainly also under the influence of the pandemic, has been informed by the theatrical space as a setting for the imagination to develop narratives, for encounters to happen, dynamics to manifest. In a similar way, Nick’s most recent work reflects an investigation on the mechanics that theatre uses to create somewhere in time and space for a performance to happen, and to imbue it with heightened significance.
In a parallel way, his interest in symbolic language and myth resonates with my predilection for allegory as a way to hint or refer to something by talking about or showing something else.
This leads to a quality that I’m almost hesitant to mention, and that I would describe as a sense of hubris that I can see in our respective works, in defying the laws of physics or pre-established hierarchies, which translates in a freedom in attributing arbitrary meanings to the compositional elements. In my case this can happen through a re-purposing of a found object in a way that suddenly charges it with new meaning. For Nick, this coincides with the creation of a symbolic space, a contrived area where a canvas becomes a stage, in which energy and new powers invest objects otherwise unanimated, not unlike the job of a wizard when drawing a magic circle on the ground.
These settings become places of incantation, where epiphanies can happen.

The Nutshell Studios, Old Market, Nailsworth GL6 0DU

© Viviana Rossi-Caffell