17.11.07 — 16.12.07 ‘Paper-thin worlds’, Sarah Bridgland, Sam Messenger, Larissa Nowicki

This group exhibition brings together recent work by Sarah Bridgland, Sam Messenger and Larissa Nowicki. The common trait that unites these three young artists is the use of paper as material support, the properties of which each artist explores in a unique way.

Paper represents the material basis for Sam Messenger’s intricate pen and ink drawings. Through repetitive combinations of simple geometric shapes, Messenger explores the expressive potential of the line. For her sculptures so small that they could fit into a matchbox, Sarah Bridgland assembles tiny fragments of printed medium. The fragile quality of these structures arises from the impermanence of their material support. Larissa Nowicki, too, uses printed paper media such as maps and books as raw material to produce her delicate hand-woven pieces.

The process of enfolding mass-produced printed media back into the economy of hand-made suggests the notion of ‘post-mechanical reproduction’ to define the common approach in these works. Nostalgic desire to invest mass-produced media with a human touch informs Larissa Nowicki’s hand-weaving technique. The slight imperfections of the weave, loose strands of the thread securing the plait are evidence of the human agency behind the apparently mechanical act of braiding. Sarah Bridgland’s sculptures, similarly, have been cut and assembled by hand, and their expressive properties depend upon the artist’s intuitive sense of balance of shapes and textures. Sam Messenger explores the possibilities of replicating mechanical processes of reproduction by hand. His drawings begin with a set of self-imposed rules to produce works where delicacy and imperfection of the drawn line co-exist with order and discipline of a mechanically repeated form.

The issue of craftsmanship remains the ultimate mark of human agency in these works. Patiently knit together stands of shredded paper, a rigorously methodical implementation of a drawing pattern, or a painstaking process of assembling the minute elements of a sculpture – all these artworks manifest the great pride in the quality of workmanship that each artist takes in their works.

Sarah Bridgland, Sam Messenger and Larissa Nowicki are all graduates from the Royal College of Art. Sarah Bridgland and Sam Messenger live and work in London and Larissa Nowicki divides her time between London and New York.