18.01.07 — 11.02.07 ‘Storytelling’, Group exhibition

Storytelling brings together the work of twelve artists, who were each invited to produce a piece exploring narrative, authorship and the relationship between image and word.

Featuring work by Natalia Calvocoressi, James Caddick, Hannah Coulson, Kieron Dennis, Paul Jackson, Toru Nagahama, Lucy Newman Cleeve, Larissa Nowicki, Ryan Ras, Matilda Saxow, Adam Simpson, Esther Teichmann, and Michael Whittle.

‘David 39’, by James Caddick, is a film about life from the perspective of a mannequin. It blends fact with fiction and invites its audience to question the nature of identity and the role of the narrator.

Toru Nagahama and Kieron Dennis both combine photographic stills and text to create poetic narratives. Playful editing allows streams of consciousness to emerge in the relationships between street vernacular, memory and the semiological systems of internal worlds.

By contrast, Esther Teichmann and Natalia Calvocoressi both seek to condense narrative down to a still image. In Teichmann’s work this is re-enforced by the title ‘Stillend Gespiegelt’. Though there is no direct translation for the German word ‘stillend’, it means both ‘breast feeding’, ‘quieting’ and ‘making still’, whilst ‘gespiegelt’ in English means ‘to mirror’. The title suggests that the work is about a relationship between mother and child and hints at childhood anxieties about separation and abandonment. In a similar way, Calvocoressi’s works, ‘The Dinner Party’ and ‘After the Fire’, imply a sudden removal of the comforts and safety of the home.

Hannah Coulson’s paintings explore childhood archetypes and fairy tales. The central protagonists in each work are children, and Coulson is interested in the moment at which they cross from the familiar and everyday world to an unknown place beyond.

Michael Whittle uses the language of emblems and a fine architects’ pen. Located against blank grounds as if they were dreams or contraptions floating in the unconscious mind, Whittle’s technically precise drawings are informed by his background as a biochemist. Heraldic and alchemical imagery allude to advanced scientific inquiry, while mysterious half-known objects suggest a narrative tantalisingly just beyond the reach of consciousness.

Adam Simpson’s drawing was originally commissioned for The Guardian Review Readers’ Books of the Year, 2006. His three-frame sequence describes how stories are passed on from one person to another, through recommendation and endorsement.

Ryan Ras has combined song lyrics with the names of the people who sang them to form a narrative history of Country Music. From the centre, the names appear in the order in which they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Larissa Nowicki and Matilda Saxow have both dissected, subverted and re-interpreted the structural design elements found in narrative vehicles such as books and other printed material. Saxow has taken the story of Jekyll and Hyde and created a volume which reflects the structure of the narrative. Nowicki has shredded original texts and then woven them together to create a new work of art.

Paul Jackson composes his work based on historical narratives, although ‘historical’ does not necessarily mean true. Here, he has juxtaposed Greek mythology with the final coup of the 1958 Cuban Uprising.

Many of the artists’ responses avoid linear or constructed narratives in favour of involving the viewer in the creation of the story. In these works, narrative emerges in the spaces between images (and text) or between the viewer and the work, opening up many different possibilities for storytelling.