Last week I took a train to Barnsley to see Light & Line an exhibition by artists Anne Morrell and Polly Binns. Having read Alice's review here I was really excited as we share many similar interests in terms of landscape and textiles, what really surprised me was my response to the work. I have long been a fan of Polly Binns' work enjoying her sense of place and the way she seems to study and analyse surfaces. I was expecting to be utterly bowled over by her work, but as often happens with expectations I was disappointed. That isn't to say that Polly Binns is not a great artist, simply that these pieces on this occasion did not speak to me, they left me cold. Rather than the subtle, yet strong compositions and surfaces I am familiar with, the textile panels felt dead; flat, matte, surfaces with no sense of light or movement. I also felt the compositions looked uncomfortable, perhaps I was looking for something more dramatic.
Happily there were things to delight in the exhibition; I very much enjoyed the simplicity of Polly's etchings, which seemed more at ease with their scale and I loved the way the sequence of marks grew as a sequence of observations of the land.
What really surprised me though were some of Anne Morrell's works. My preference is normally for things with greater subtleties, but despite using bold colour I found her work interesting and engaging. The complexities of surface tension and layered colour were surprising and innovative, her use of textile transformative. Her textile pieces seem to act as a means of understanding the effects of light and water through an alternative media; working things out through making. The exploration of tension is very exciting, using stitch to stretch, pull and hold the fabric. Most of all though I enjoyed the small pieces mounted between perspex sheets and suspended in front of the window, the results being luminous even on a drab day. I really wish I had taken a photo of those.
2 February 2013 - 16 March 2013
Turnpike Gallery, Leigh
11 May 2013 - 7 July 2013
Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery
You can read another interesting review from Alternative Barnsley here.