Beating Time is an exhibition of paintings by Sandra Beccarelli, Miranda Boulton, Alison Critchlow and Una d’Aragona. Judith Weik, Coordinator of Art at the Alison Richard Building, asks the artists about their exhibition, which is located on all four floors of the Alison Richard Building at the University of Cambridge and runs until the 22 February 2020, when it culminates with artist talks.
Una d’Aragona, EU and the bull
Q: Sandra, Miranda, Alison and Una, what is your exhibition about?
This exhibition investigates possibilities, hints and suggestions. It proposes resonance across art forms and sets up a dialogue between painters, poets, viewers and readers. The paintings on show are inspired by separate enquiries into poetry, which share some similarities. They talk to each other, like the flow of words on a page they investigate thoughts and ideas, concepts which are on the edge of conscious thought … all those things that are tricky to voice, hard to define and which words cannot easily express. The language of paint is employed to discuss and interpret the work of poets.
The visual conversation is an open one; it can be entered into on many levels. Time, flow and movement keep us travelling from then to now and back again, from the natural world to the internal landscape, conduits of feeling and dialogue occur. The narratives of ancient mythology with squabbling Gods, wars, love and grief play out with contemporary voices, mingling with the meters of modern text.
Each of us has their own process and their own interest in poems, each has a unique relationship with their poet, some have explored the resonance of place others the internal landscape, gender relations and eco-psychology. We work in different environments but share a reciprocal rhythm with our poet.
Q: How did you conceive the theme of this exhibition?
The theme of this exhibition grew out of conversations between Miranda Boulton and Alison Critchlow about their experience of working with Poetry through Paint.
Miranda Boulton, Outside in
Q: How did each of you interpret and work with the theme?
Sandra Beccarelli: When talking together about the creation of painting or poetry, both I and the poet Agnieszka Studzinska refer to the ‘architecture’ of it: the underlying structure which makes up the surface of what is written or painted. The works produced for ‘Beating Time’ are a result of our close collaboration; a lively, open-ended dialogue, in which each shares intimate aspects of their craft with the other. Both of us are preoccupied with the capacity of our medium to express meaning, as well as notions of change and transformation. This is played out both in the content of our work and in the continual adaptations and transference of ideas and motifs between painter and poet. The feeling of ‘breaking up’, disintegrating and re-forming within both the visual and written echoes the fragmentation and complexities of living in our modern times.
Miranda Boulton: I worked for two years with the contemporary poet Kaddy Benyon on the project ‘A Painter and a Poet’. We explored reciprocal female friendship and creativity, focusing on the corresponding relationship between Winifred Nicholson and her Poet friend Kathleen Raine. The project has culminated in a book, which will be published in October 2019 and a body of paintings, prints and poetry which work within the elasticity of time and space bringing together the work of all four of us into a mutual space.
Alison Critchlow: I have been painting in Dove Cottage garden and from the Wordsworth Trust Collection in Grasmere. I started exploring Wordsworth’s creative process by drawing from his manuscripts, looking at the rhythm and flow of his words on the page, the stops and deletions, the gaps and stubs. I then spent two years at various times of day and night throughout the year painting in his garden, curious to see how the external environment seeps into creative thinking. Using his ideas about landscape, memory, transformation and the ‘inward eye’ my paintings explore the territory shared by poet and painter across the centuries and the unseen rhythms of place.
Una d’Aragona: Transformation and the materiality of paint are subjects of scrutiny in my practice. My paintings rework motifs and narratives from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I apply my experience as a psychotherapist to my reading of Ovid’s psychologically charged poetry, updating the concerns of past civilizations to reflect contemporary issues, such as anxiety over gender relations, the environment and politics. I utilise the psychoanalytical technique of ‘free association’ in both visual and textual language to play with multiple meanings. Rubens’ painting The Abduction of Europa is reinterpreted as a meditation on our ‘abducted’ relationship with Europe and our treatment of animals. The Rubens original is itself is a reworking of a version of the myth by Titian, which portrays the rape of Europa by Zeus in the guise of a white bull. Just as Rubens contemporise the classical myth by referencing the establishment of Europe as a trading region, d’Aragona similarly updates the tale with symbols of meat-eating, the Americanization of culture, and intensive farming.
Alison Critchlow, Passing through
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Sandra Beccarelli: I am a London based abstract painter. My work has been selected and hung at The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, ING Discerning Eye and The Griffin Art Prize. I studied at Wimbledon School of Art, Foundation (1987-1988), Bristol Polytechnic Fine Art B.A (1988-1991), Accademia Belle Arte, Ravenna (1990) and completed my Postgraduate Diploma in Painting from City and Guilds of London Art School, 2010. Group shows: ‘The Immaculate Dream’, curated by Rosalind Davies, Collyer Bristow, London until Oct 2019, ‘White Noise’, The Crypt, St Pancras 2017, ‘Mapping the Human Brain’, The Old Biscuit Factory, Bermondsey, 2018, ‘Three 100’, No Format Gallery, Deptford, 2017, ‘Playing with Rules’, The Broad Gallery, Angel, 2015,’From Surface to Structure’ at Jean Luc Baroni in Mason’s Yard, London. I have been Artist in Residence at Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham from December 2015 – April 2016, with a solo show ‘Beyond the Surface of Seeing’. In March 2019 I had a solo show, ‘Restless States’ at One Paved Court, Richmond.
Miranda Boulton: I am Cambridge based and studied Art History at Sheffield Hallam University, graduating in 1994. In 2015 I completed three years of post-grad study with Turps Banana Art School, London. Two-person Exhibitions: ‘Double Time’, Arthouse1, London, curated by Jane Boyer, 2019, ‘Off Line On Line’, Studio 1.1, London, 2015. Solo exhibitions: New Hall Art Collection, Cambridge University, 2012, Madame Lillies Gallery, London, 2011. Group Exhibitions: Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2016 and 2019, Creekside Open, 2019, Cambridge Summer Open, ARB, 2019, ‘Re-purpose/Reverse’, Studio 1.1 Gallery, London, 2019, ‘Painting Now’, Studio One Gallery, 2017, ‘Storyboard’, Angus-Hughes, London, co-curated, 2017, Salon Art Prize, 2011, Artworks Open in 2010 and 2011.
Alison Critchlow: I am a contemporary British painter and trained at Falmouth School of Art (1989-92), I recently completed 3 years postgraduate study with Turps Art School. I have exhibited widely in Britain including ING Discerning Eye, NOA, Open Eye Gallery, Manchester Art Show, Tullie House, Bianco Nero, Gracefield Arts Centre, Fairfield Mill, Brantwood. I have paintings in several private collections including Royal Bank of Scotland, Ernst and Young and Edinburgh Hospitals Trust. I am based in north Cumbria but often paint in far-flung places, visiting arctic Greenland in 2010 and spending a month as Artist in residence on the Isle of Iona in Feb 2017.
Una d’Aragona: I obtained a BA Hons in Fine Art (First) at Falmouth University in 2009, studied for an MFA at Bathspa University and completed two years of post-grad training at Turps Art School. I have exhibited widely and have been a selected artist in numerous open competitions such as the National Open Art Competition, Zeitgeist Art Projects, Wells Contemporary Art and Bath Art Prize. I was the Regional prizewinner for the Amiri Prize in 2010 for NOAC. I am currently Chair of the Newlyn Society of Artists in Cornwall.
Sandra Beccarelli, This could all be gone tomorrow – broken and fixed
Q: Apart from those interested in painting, who would this exhibition be of interest to?
Anyone interested in Poetry and artistic collaboration between different mediums.
Q: Is there a book or catalogue to go with the exhibition, and where is it available?
An online catalogue has been produced to coincide with ‘Beating Time’ with an essay by Anna Souter – An Active State of Being: Between the Painterly and the Poetic. If you would like to receive a copy please email firstname.lastname@example.org.