‘Going out coming home’ art exhibition
On Friday 2nd June at 5pm Private & Public will launch the gallery’s first summer exhibition Going Out Coming Home which will showcase the works of two of Britain’s most outstanding and highly sought after female artists, Florence Hutchings & Alma Berrow.
- Preview Evening & Drinks Reception on Friday 2nd June from 5-8pm. All Welcome. Specially curated wines by Love Wine
- Exhibition runs until Friday 30th June and is open weekdays from 12-6pm and on Saturdays from 10am- 2pm
Originating in northern Europe in the 1600’s, still lifes by male painters reproduced elements of domestic space while avoiding the depiction or celebration of the uninteresting realm of femininity. A few gleaming objects, no mess, no emotion, nor any trace of function.
The planning and organisation of where things were bought, stored and eaten did not matter. Instead, food articulated wealth, or mapped the trade routes taken to the table; in darker moods, possessions spoke to the brevity of life and painterliness was more of interest than purpose.
For women artists in the early twentieth century, still life remained a medium through which to explore aesthetics and politics, but to this established repertoire, they added an exploration of the uneasy relationship between the public and private spheres, gender and value, lived experience and aesthetic form. The domesticity these women’s paintings took as their subject had once been an instrument of oppression, precisely the cause of their careers as artists being curtailed.
Yet within these artworks a kind of reversal occurred. Definitions of the value of the home no longer came from the outside as the patriarchal institutions that wanted to preserve women’s subservience were eroded. A new moral universe was founded, constructed by women and circulated by their creative work, with an emphasis on freedom of thought, hope, and a suddenly boundless aspiration.
At the same time, and through an innovation that their male forefathers never conceived of, still life became a repository for daily experiences, a way of summarising the diverse parts that made up their lives. This rebellious new use for still life has never been more potently portrayed then by Florence Hutchings and Alma Berrow who have become the stand out British female artists of their generation.
In the case of both it is sensible to understand their practice within the context of the late Betty Woodman who is recognised as one of the most important voices in post-war art, having synthesised sculpture, painting, and ceramics in a highly original and immediately recognisable formal vocabulary.
Her embodied readings of a diversity of ancient and modern art historical traditions, as well as her fearless pursuits of visual pleasure, posited her as a boldly contemporary figure whose work proves revelatory in discussions about gender, modernism, craft, architecture, and domesticity.
Going Out Coming Home, as the title suggests, is an exhibition which is layered with contemporary narratives. Upon first inspection Alma Berrow’s ceramics appear like playful meditations on the stresses and excesses of modern life. We are greeted with scenes from the morning after the party with ash trays piled high and cigarette butts stubbed into discarded shells but her elegant ceramics also feel like warning signs that the world in which we inhabit is inherently fragile and reveal how little control we have over our own consumption.
In describing her work Alma says “I know much of the contemporary world rests on a fragile balance. Preserving it remains the challenge and by representing an essential yet destructive material, my ceramics do not seek to hide their inherent fragility.”
Florence Hutchings describes her work as “Playful, raw and juicy”. The richness of the colours she uses has undoubtedly led to her establishing a large following. There is a repetition of motif, an inkling of domesticity and a playful celebration of the everyday pleasures associated with spending time at home.
“The influences for my work stem from lots of different parts of my life. The first thing that comes to mind is of course other artists’ work such as Bonnard, Braque and Gillian Ayres who have had such a massive influence on my studio practice. I love collecting art books and try to make a point to look at different ones each day. But outside of other artists, what surrounds me in my day to day to life is such an inspiration for my subject matter. Whether it be the table and chairs in my house, or the clothes rail in my bedroom these are all things I enjoy drawing.”
Gallery Director Chris Clifford says “Going Out Coming Home is an exhibition which celebrates the creativity of two quite brilliant artists who have cleverly been able to reimagine one of the cornerstones within the cannon of western art. Pitched when the days are longest the sunlight that fills the gallery illuminates these bold and imaginative works and allows us to reflect on the pleasures, excesses and risks of private domesticity and contemporary social interaction”.