Hanging in the Moment
The Marylebone gallery’s summer display focuses on the effortlessly ethereal mobile works of Juliet and Jamie Gutch and Thurle Wright
Article by Tom Jones
Jaggedart, of Marylebone, held their summer drinks on a fine, warm, summery Thursday evening, exhibiting around a theme of ‘Swing and Swirl’ featuring a large number of works from Thurle Wright and the Yorkshire-based duo Juliet and Jamie Gutch. Collectors and friends of the gallery gathered to chat and view works produced in opposite ends of the country, but united by a reverence to the important of form.
The pieces were beautifully hung, complimented by the light, airy nature of the gallery. The Gutch’s mobile works swung gently around the fringes of the room – they weren’t laid in the middle of the room, which meant they didn’t dominate the space. More importantly for me, however, as a somewhat inelegant 6ft 4 figure, it greatly reduced the risk of me accidentally upsetting the fragile forms of the mobiles. However, this is in fact part of the work’s intent. The Gutch’s work is intended to react to those in the gallery – swaying in response to people breezing past, jolting when accidentally touched.
The work emerging from the couple’s studios in Ilkley over the last ten years has been a constant exploration of balance through mobiles, taking inspiration from the rolling hills of God’s Own County around Ilkley, responding to the famous Ilkley Moor in particular. This is obviously inferred in the gentle rolling smoothness of the individual constructions. Put these individual forms together, see them interact, and it is easy to see that the constantly moving shapes seem to imitate the gentle rising and falling of the hills that characterise the area’s breath taking scenery.
Jaggedart displayed excellent examples of their work, with large craning and curving pieces of naturally finished wood attached by a single thin strands, almost imperceptible. Finding the equilibrium of these pieces, they then exploit this to the maximum, swinging beautifully with smaller pieces of wood interacting with the more dominant pieces, all within the mobiles’ larger space. The movement of these forms brings to mind the movement of a murmation of starlings, who twist and turn within a space without travelling, creating a variety of forms – the curves of the smaller wooden seem to match the elegant shapes of the outlying ‘arms’ of a murmation, whilst of course the larger pieces represented that larger core of birds that somehow seems to stay in the same place. That these large, heavy pieces of wood are held by single thin strands is incredible enough; however, the effect is only increased when you realised that from the other side of the gallery, you can’t see the strands at all.
As well as the gorgeous form of the mobile, the material must be commented on too; the most almightily gorgeous elm I think I have ever seen. Not a knot in sight and beautifully light. The wood’s natural brilliance was captivating in its simplicity, and complimented the ethereal forms created by the mobiles perfectly.
Equally impressive was the work of the other artists on display, Thurle Wright, whose art involves the delicate creation of shapes from various paper sources, repositioning strands of the printed word into repeating works that arouse great curiosity in the viewer – not only the amazement at the dedication that is inherent in her every work, from working thin strips of paper – surely one of art’s most frustrating mediums – into repeating patterns. Enveloping thin steel pins with paper rosettes is an equally painstaking task – yet in ‘Navigation’, Wright must have undertaken a monumental amount of work to produce such a work, with the rosettes, formed from the pages of a school atlas, linked by multiple threads.
The works of Wright on display here in particular her credentials as an interesting producer of mixed media work. The Zimbabwean-born artist earned a degree in Textiles from Goldsmiths College and this interest shines through in her work, as does her previous studies in modern languages and literature. Transforming text, in particular books and dictionaries, into systematic works of a great variety, subtly playing on both the original subjects of the texts and the form they have been morphed into. The works on display at Jaggedart alone ranged from a single sprawling work that covered an entire wall alone like some kind of creeping paper plant to intricate works of paper swirls contained within a small picture frame.
A particular favourite was ‘Triangulation I & II’, a piece of pyramids of different scales set out on a simple canvas. What I liked about this work in particular was that it slaked my natural curiosity. The forms were large enough to allow me to read the print, this time taken from books on ethics and the limits of philosophy. Seeing such excerpts without context makes the mind work a lot harder to try and interpret the meaning of the artist and the intent behind the changes made to both text and form. This is perhaps the most appealing and intriguing part of Wright’s work. It is not enough to sate one’s curiosity to see simply ‘Excerpts from Shakespeare’ or ‘Atlas’ on the description. You feel an irresistible urge to get up close to the work, to see what Shakespeare she has used. Is it something you recognise? As you read the tiny fragments of text, devoid of their conventional context, you find yourself asking why these parts have been chosen. The same occurs whenever atlases are used in Wright’s work, you find yourself seeking a piece of land, some mark that is familiar to you. Wright’s work takes you on a journey matched only by the journey that the paper she uses undergoes to become her art and, whether you like it or not, you find yourself strapping in to search for somewhere familiar.
Jaggedart did not overfill this collection and the compact yet open space of the gallery worked to their favour, favouring depth, rather than breadth in this collection. The former shop front opens not onto a typical drab London street, but rather a Parisian-style boulevard, allowing for a huge amount of natural light, bathing the works. This worked particularly well for the Gutch constructions, whose natural finish sparkled and glimmered. The two artists’ work complimented each other well, the swirls of both works subtly enhancing the other.
Exhibition runs until Saturday July 30th.
Enquiries: Jaggetart, 28A Devonshire Street, London W1G 6PS / 0207 4867374 / www.jaggedart.com/exhibitions/2016/swing-and-swirl-juliet-and-jamie-gutch-thurle-wright