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Alice Wilson JGM GALLERY

Alice Wilson 19 September - 2 November 2019

JGM GALLERY Published on the occasion of the exhibition by JGM Gallery 24 Howie Street London SW11 4AY ISBN 978-1-9160585-3-8 © 2019 JGM Gallery and the artist All rights reserved

It is a great pleasure for me to present the work of Alice Wilson at JGM Gallery. We’ve shared many discussions, and since a studio visit back in February I’ve been privy to many images pinging into my Whats App with excited messages asking for my thoughts, however, there’s only so much Alice will tell you until she is completely clear in her own mind. This could make a gallerist nervous in the lead up to presenting an artists work, with Alice I have remained excited and confident about the outcome throughout this process. The work ethic and rigor in Alice’s approach causes her to constantly push her practice, her awareness of space and context means that whether she is in a forest, car park or the clean walls of JGM she remains aware of her audience. Island presents a series of sculptures and paintings that reflect the architecture of the gallery as well as Alice’s own relationships with places that have become familiar to her throughout her life. The accompanying interview by artist Lana Locke unpicks some of these relationships and gives more clues as to the final shape of the exhibition, but, as always I sense there’s a few things kept under her hat!

Jennifer Guerrini Maraldi September 2019

Birchens, 2019 Plaster, Iron Oxide, Softwood, Spraypaint and Jesmonite Dye 32 x 24.5 x 4.5cm

Alice Wilson An interview by Lana Locke

Goat Moth, Riis Skov, Denmark, 2018 Lana Locke: Your exhibition Island seems to consolidate your move from painting to sculpture. Had you been building up to that for a while? Alice Wilson: Yes, Island unpicks what in many ways felt like an inevitable move towards three dimensions. For example, my paintings used to quite often sit on the floor and be quite object-like. I trained as a painter and I had been questioning that a lot. I used to call myself a “painter” rather than an “artist” because it described the skill itself, whereas “artist” seemed like more of a hierarchical term. Now I have been making sculpture for a while I can’t really do that any more. “Painter” also seems to limit you to the medium, so I think just on a practical level it’s narrower. Vice-versa I myself wouldn’t call myself a sculptor now that I work more in other media. Presumably you wouldn’t call yourself a sculptor either, because then it would limit you from being able to go back and work in two dimensions? That’s true! I don’t really feel like I’ve stopped painting either, and for Island the work is both on and off the walls. I had the opportunity to work in a forest in Denmark last year, where I painted a lot of wood, and constructed on site. There were a lot of opportunities to talk about the work publicly while I was there, and I kept describing the process as painting with wood! The dilemma of how I describe my practice is echoed in my dilemma of how I describe my nationality. As a child I was identified as Scottish, and had a Scottish accent acquired from my parents - which I lost as we moved around England. So I used to think of myself as Scottish, then British, but never English. Conversely, I don’t think people in Scotland would think of me as Scottish! If Scotland left the UK I’m not sure what I would say.

Cheap Laughs, 2017

Ch(st)air, 2017

The first sculpture you exhibited also reflected on boundaries and transitions, can you tell me about that? I received a commission from Battersea Park, and responded by making a stile that people could climb over. The form of the stile appealed to me because there is nothing ambiguous about it: it’s definitely there to help. It was installed in front of the Pump House Gallery rather than across a boundary, but gallery visitors and members of the public were able to interact with it and climb over it. It is interesting that although a stile has a definite function, going against that, to make the stile as an art object and place it in front of an art space, you made that function obsolete in some way. Were you questioning whether or not art is ‘for’ something? Yes, as the function the stile provided, whether or not it had a practical purpose in the park, prompted the viewer to contemplate the helpfulness of this object for the action of crossing a boundary. The subsequent sculpture I made for Dolph Projects, where a chair opens up and turns into a stair, again provides an offer of help. The stile also seems to mark your own crossing of a boundary between painting and sculpture. Had there been any hints of this crossing before? There was also a recurring motif of a flattened sculpture of what I describe as a “window on a stick”. I made it in steel and used it as part of a photographic project. The motif re-appears within one of the sculptures for Island.

Supra, 2011 The window is divided in such a way that it resembles the stretcher bar frame that supports a painter’s canvas. What is the significance of the frame? I had been making paintings where the stretcher bars were deliberately exposed, with the image sometimes hidden behind sheer voile, a fabric commonly used on the interior of windows for privacy. I was interested in the idea of the framing device, and of what is always left out of the frame in the editing process; what we expect and what we take away from a scene. I want to probe the infrastructure and privilege that allows us to access landscape but that is unseen in romantic images of it, where landscape becomes a mental space of escape rather than reality. The smaller sculptures that feature in Island depict our constructs that can help or hinder such access to places of wilderness, but are often edited out. There are, on the other hand, landscapes that are less privileged, like the landscape around the studio in Streatham where you are making this work, and I wonder if that becomes part of its context as well? For example, the provisional nature of this studio space, a former factory, and waste materials like scrap wood that can readily be found in the refuse area outside the building. Yes, I do think about the immediate environment and historical context: the studio complex was apparently a car-spraying warehouse, so like me dealing with objects of function and colour! Scrap material found near the studio does feed into the sculptures, although I also purchase and receive sponsorship for timber. When I start a new piece, I will often have a plan with regards to size, colour and content, but the use of the “found” can help free me up to work fairly intuitively. I have also appropriated colour palettes from paintings as starting points for the spiky works. In some ways it’s about minimising the decision making by taking things from elsewhere so I can fully focus on the making.

Artists studio, 2019 For me, the immediate history of my own paint marks on the wood has equal significance to the wider history, as each mark was made at a different time and for a different project. Dolph Projects’ exhibition space was located in this building too. When I made the chair piece for Dolph, I initially used a lot of colour but it ended up black and looking like an execution chair. In the end, all of the colour tests I made for it became more interesting to me than the final formal structure. The wood I had made the tests on, and all the associated marks of process, became the basis for the first of the “barrier system” paintings, that are also shown in Island and that operate in parallel with the series of sculptural pieces. The “barrier” then is the art object that I can’t get away from, as even the remnants of process become formalised into pieces that hang on the wall. The benches that feature in Island seem to be another development from the chair piece, having a similar function but with the additional layer of the relationship to landscape. Can you talk about that development? I feel that the bench is another positive aide: an object that is there to help. It marks a place to sit and look, or just rest. I used found benches in my solo show for ArtLacuna, and added an Irn Bru can on one of the benches to make a nod towards Scotland. The Scottish location both is and isn’t important to the viewer. What is important about Scotland to you? Although I’ve never lived there I was raised with a Scottish identity and all my family and both parents were from Scotland. We always went to the same place in Scotland on holiday each year, and it is where my parents moved to when I left home. A lot of the objects in Island are drawn from photographs I took of the landscape around where my Mum still lives. These objects then become a marker to me of my own access and relationship with the landscape, and my own degree of privilege in having that access. I also regularly referred back to the photographs when making the wider body of work in Island, and they are another influence in its colour palette.

Blockade (You had the option to stop), 2018 Does this background also bring in your family as an influence? Some of your work with coloured planks of wood reminds me of Louise Bourgeois’ early wood sculptures, where planks of wood become representative of the family, and form a communal but slightly threatening presence; also in the spikiness of the Island sculptures, which could be hostile, or could be fertile, bursting out of containment. It’s a good question, but one I’m not sure I can fully answer at the moment. There’s a lot about the work that I feel is enormously personal but I don’t want to fill in those blanks for the viewer. I suppose there is family in there but I am reluctant to identify family as a direct influence, and would struggle with how relevant it is to the work. However, it’s true that the family background is always there, for example the gates are all drawn from photographs I took on my Mum’s road. The purpose of the gates is ambiguous too: they could be helpful; they could be hostile. The larger Island sculptures are more aggressive. If I imagine touching and pressing on the tips of the wood, they could physically hurt me. The boathouse is also drawn from a real place, not far from where my Mum lives. It’s really quiet there and I have never seen a boat come in or out of it. The boathouse is another transitional space too, being accessed by water and having water flowing into it. The object also has echoes of Cornelia Parker’s Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) (2016) recently shown at the Royal Academy. That piece had a transitional relationship to media too, manifesting in sculpture an architectural space depicted in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). Yet the title “transitional object” refers to a term used by the psychoanalyst DW Winnicott to describe a child’s comfort object that stands in for the mother, somewhere between fantasy and reality, to ward off anxiety. This is given sinister connotations in Parker’s work, but the way you describe the boathouse makes it seem more of a contemplative space.

A photograph of a boat house, 2019 Maybe there is something of the “transitional object” in the motifs and images I return to in my studio practice. I was really taken by a documentary I watched on Isa Genzkhen recently where she spoke about her studio and how after a visit she needs to move and change something in the work that’s been viewed so it becomes just for her again, I really identified with that. There is something quite eery about the boathouse, but it is also very accessible, it is not remote or romantic. I find it quite comforting that others can access it, and that it perhaps has a comforting function for others who use it too. But the bench you have placed inside your sculpture would be very hard to access, not only because the bench is very high but because the only entrance to the boathouse is from the water. Conversely, the bench also disrupts the function of housing boats… The piece feels like a riddle! Also your image of the barn reminds me of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, which was full of riddles! Yes! Twin Peaks is definitely an influence; it captures the eery and the familiar so well. The font used for the Island exhibition postcards is actually borrowed from the Twin Peaks titles! Perhaps it is my can of Irn Bru for Island: a hook, or locator to give the viewer an anchor point. In Twin Peaks they are all lost in that world and I do think of Island as reflecting on the individual in relation to the physical land. The individual in society seems to be becoming more and more isolated. I am also still trying to unpick David Lynch’s portrayal of women, particularly in the last series of Twin Peaks, varying between dependent, vacant and insane. Lars von Trier gets accused of being a misogynist quite often, but the women in his films tend to be stronger characters than in Lynch’s.

Do you want to take forward a feminist position against that portrayal? I am reluctant to frame my practice in terms of politics. However, sometimes people will make quite sexist assumptions about my practice, like that I don’t know what drill bit to use. I suppose the fact that I am indignant about that could be identified as a feminist position. Maybe the politics is in the making itself ? Phyllida Barlow talks about the politics of sculpture in physically taking up space, and the largest of your sculptures in Island will reach the height of the JGM Gallery space! Yes, the work keeps getting bigger. In recent group exhibitions at Thames-Side Studios and domobaal Gallery, I have ended up striving to make the biggest work in the show, which if I’m honest is intentional. A politics of making in terms of construction also contributes to my idea of Island. If you’re a labourer, mining in a remote landscape, the mountains are your factory walls as opposed to a romantic and contemplative vista. Access, exposure and use of land(scape) are intrinsically political, and perhaps social and economic factors play the largest role in your experience of it.

Photograph of a bench at Loch Morlich, 2015

Lana Locke is an artist working across a range of media including sculpture, installation, painting and

video. She recently completed a practice-based PhD on The Feral, the Art Object and the Social at Chelsea College of Arts. She has had solo exhibitions at LUNGLEY Gallery (2019), Liddicoat & Goldhill Project Space (2018), DOLPH Projects (2016) and Schwartz Gallery (2014). She featured in Bloomberg New Contemporaries (2013 and 2016) and in group exhibitions at MOCA Taipei, Taiwan (2018), the Nunnery Gallery (2018), the ICA (2013 and 2016), the Bluecoat (2016), Block 336 (2015), APT Gallery (2013, 2015 and 2017), Spike Island (2013) and the Royal Academy (2012). She is represented by LUNGLEY Gallery. Artist’s website:

Midwood, 2019 Cement, Softwood, Oak and Paint 24 x 18.5 x 6.7cm

KAIM, 2019 Wood, Construction Timber, Plaster and Paint 207 x 32 x 51cm

BS46, 2019 Construction Timber, Plaster, Paint and Photographic Transfer 50 x 59 x 4.5cm

BS50, 2019 Construction Timber, Plaster, Paint and Photographic Transfer 47 x 60 x 4.5cm

The Weisha, 2019 Construction Timber, Plaster, Paint and Photographic Transfer 117 x 60 x 50cm

UNFANK, 2019 Wood and Paint 290 x 52 x 33cm

Bench, 2019 Construction Timber, Paint and Tree Stump 48 x 180 x 22cm

Worm Food, 2019 Tulip Wood, Softwood, Plaster and Paint 21 x 20.5 x 7cm

Betty Blue, 2019 Tulip Wood, Softwood, Plaster, Paint and Jesmonite Dye 21 x 22 x 9.5cm

FANK, 2019 Construction Timber, Tree Stump, Steel and Paint 292 x 52 x 45cm

The Support, 2019 Softwood, Plaster, Concrete and Paint 160 x 81 x 24cm

Lauden, 2019 Softwood, Plaster, Spray Paint and Jesmonite Dye 33 x 50 x 6.5cm

Dallas, 2019 Softwood, Brass, Plaster, Paint and Tree Stump 135 x 43 x 59cm

House Red, 2019 Softwood, Plaster Jesmonite Dye and Paint 277 x 84 x 49cm

Mallachie, 2019 Softwood, Oak, Tulip Wood, Plaster, Paint and Photographic Transfer 21 x 22.5 x 10cm

BS45, 2019 Construction Timber, Plaster, Paint, and Photographic Transfer 30 x 34.5 x 4.5cm

Pine Ridge Lodge, 2019 Softwood, Plaster, Iron Oxide and Paint 180 x 36 x 21cm

BS37, 2019 Construction Timber, Plaster, Paint, Concrete and Photographic Transfer 34 x 47 x 4.5cm

BS39, 2019 Construction Timber, Plaster, Paint and Photographic Transfer 40 x 54 x 4.5cm

John, 2019 Tulip Wood, Reclaimed Wood and Spray Paint 65 x 20 x 10cm

Alice Wilson, b. 1982, UK.

Lives and works in London. Graduated with an MA from Wimbledon School of Art, UAL in 2011 and with a BA in Fine Art from Loughborough University in 2005. Completing a residency in Aarhus, Denmark during May 2018 supported by the British Council, she returned to Aarhus in October for a significant Solo Exhibition, Goat Moth at Godsbanen. Other recent exhibitions include HarderEdge at the Saatchi Gallery, London, Dec 2018 Painting and Other Bad Habits at Charlotte Fogh Gallery, Aarhus, Nov 2018, a Solo Exhibition with DOLPH projects, London, Sept 2017, and Recreational Grounds, a public intervention in a disused South London car park, April 2018. In 2019 Wilson has installed 4 significant works at Cheeseburn Sculpture Park for the 2019-20 programme,is exhibiting with domobaal as part of the group exhibition Backyard Sculpture and has installed her largest work to date at Thames Side Studios Gallery for the group exhibition Modern Finance. Education

The Immaculate Dream curated by Roaslind Davis Collyer Bristow Gallery, London MA Fine Art, Wimbledon College of Art, UAL, 2009 - 2011 2018 Harder Edge curated by Dominic Beattie, Saatchi BA Fine Art Painting, 1st Class, 2002-2005. Gallery, London Loughborough University School of Art and Design Painting and Other Bad Habits Charlotte Fogh Gallery, Aarhus, Denmark Awards Harder Edge curated by Dominic Beattie and Artist International Development Fund from The British Ali Hilman, The Hospital Club, London Council 2018 The Waiting Room curated by Karen David, Wimbledon Space, London Resdencies Surface curated by Nico Kos, JGM Gallery, Merz Barn, March-April 2017 Supported by DOLPH and London the Littoral Arts Trust. Recreational Grounds curated by Fiona Grady Hospitalfield Interdisciplinary Residency, August 2015 and Tim Ralston, London Do Re Me So Fa La Te curated by Karen David, Collections The Griffin Gallery Perimeter Space, London The Howden Collection (Hyperion Insurance Group) 2017 PIAF Peckham International Art Fair, The National Maritime Museum represented by ASC Gallery, London Von Opel Collection Window Sill curated by Karen David, The Griffin Gallery, Perimeter Space, London Guerrini Maraldi Collection 2016 30 degrees celsius Group Show. ASC Gallery, Taplow House, London Couner_Fitters Group Show curated by Sasha Solo Exhibitions Bowles, Evy Jokhova and Rosalind Davis at Geddes Gallery, Kings Cross, London 2019 Island JGM Gallery, London 2014 Pick and Mix, Mother Gallery, Hackney Wick, Gated Community Glass Cloud Gallery, London London 2018 Goat Moth Godsbanen, Denmark A5 at Art Athena. Lubomirov-Easton, Greece. 2013 First come first served Lion and Lamb 2017 Alice Wilson DOLPH projects, London Gallery, London Cheap Laughs The Pump House Gallery, London Pop Up Print Show Art Lacuna, London 2015 From a few different angles ArtLacuna space, Paper Nautillus Nautillus Press, London London 2012 Flatland Curated by Laura Hensser. Bargate Monument Gallery, Southampton Selected Group Exhibitions Still Curated by Laura Hensser, Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London 2019 Talking Heads Tash Kahn & Alice Wilson, Same Place Different Faces IG Gallery, Stonespace, London Backyard Sculpture curated by Neil Gall and London 2011 Futura Bold/Futura Oblique Curated by David Gates, domobaal, London Julia Alvarez and Juan Bolivar, Group Show at Modern Finance curated by Howard Dyke and Playpaint, Thames Side Gallery, London The Nunnery Gallery, London.

With Many Thanks to Champion Timber for their generous support

Alice Wilson 19 September - 2 November 2019


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