Year Funded: 2016-2017
Project Leaders: Deborah Gardner (School of Design) and Dr Andrea Thoma (School of Design)
‘Texture of Place’ is a collaboration of UK based artists Deborah Gardner and Andrea Thoma that intends to explore juxtapositions of visual idioms to reflect on the immediacy and distance of place in view of material presence, projection, narrative and abstraction. Ideas of the local feature in both artists’ work and are also responding to the rich textile history of Lodz and Leeds.
The process of collaboration is at the core of this project, creating work, whilst responding to specific cultural contexts, spatial parameters (the exhibition space/s) and geo-political settings (Central Europe). The exhibition in Lodz will travel to other Central European venues.
Gardner’s sculptures engage with how we collapse the cosmological to a human scale. The work points to an experience of the physical world and architecture of matter, structures of networkability or propagation. Thoma’s paintings are reflections on folded space and movement of colour as light; her video works and photographs explore transparency, reflection and density of form informed by landscape, board games and interiors. The practice of both artists involves a consideration of place, proximity and distance.
The exhibition at the newly built Galeria Strefa Erasmusa, Strzemiński Academy of Art Łódź gave Gardner and Thoma an opportunity to make a site-specific response in a very large, beautifully developed, ambitious exhibition space with excellent lighting and technical facilities. The gallery was built with the intention of promoting new ideas, mobility and internationalism between artists, students and visiting public and has a near constant stream of visiting viewers during opening hours.
Within a juxtaposition of sculpture, photography, painting and video ‘Textures of Place’ became tangible through particular lines of thought and their concurrent materialisation. These involved cell and plant structures, movement of colour and light, spheres and planets, reflective surfaces, particular geographical textures, relations between sculptural form and painted/printed/projected or photographed images, aspects of scale, concrete materiality and imaginary potential.
The setting up of the show took various days due to the large scale of the exhibition space with a main structure using a set of tables at the middle of the space and wall based works, projections and monitors towards the outer parameters.
The private view was followed by a public talk where Gardner and Thoma reflected on the conceptual and visual aspect of their collaboration. Members from the public, students, staff and artists attended and engaged in a discussion on contemporary art and the particular approach of Gardner and Thoma. The exhibition was well received and was documented by the Academy of Lodz and can be seen on their website.
It is expected that this activity produces a basis for other future activities, particularly concerned with critiques on place, geopolitics, materiality with a strong possibility of new groupings, collaborations and, above all, cultural exchanges.