Re-Evaluation

Re-Evaluation

3 April - 26 April 2008

Jackie Whitwell, Jane Langley, Kathleen Mullaniff, Pip Culbert

Four female artists whose works re-visit aspects, elements and objects of our familiar surroundings and the everyday. Notions of femininity, domesticity, home memories and what makes something become familiar are explored.

Jackie Whitwell's paintings are of sections of wallpapers and walls. A sense of familiarity and déjà vu permeates her beautiful patterns and smooth textures. However a closer look perceives markings of the frame of a painting, the recognizable trace of a telephone wire or a picture hook, areas of dampness or torn paper. Many of the wallpapers are old patterns which may, in a Proustian way, trigger memories of places of our childhood, of a familiar sense of belonging. Her work is about loss, absence and the passing of time; of the stains and scars left on surfaces and objects.

Kathleen Mullaniff's works also take wallpaper as well as lace curtains, decorative printed fabric, photographic and illustrated floral imagery as a starting point in order to investigate the idea of home as a place laden with memory and cultural identity. Her Storyteller series is based on her mother's recounting that her grandmother was a storyteller in rural Ireland. The repeated rose image makes reference to the wallpaper on the wall of her grandmother's cottage which would have been the setting of her storytelling. The lightness and transience of a moving lace curtain is rendered permanent in an imprint of gesso and pigment. Whether obsessively copying an image, tracing it over and over again with carbon paper, transferring it onto canvas or re-drawing it in silver point, it seems that Mullaniff aims to fix a fleeting impression in time.

Playful, colourful, organic and abstract forms appear in Jane Langley's paintings. Her works are based on found images of textiles, stitch and other crafts, which typify feminine creativity, and are often synonymous with the domestic space. Historically, painting was primarily a male activity, leaving women painters marginalized. In her paintings she sets about both exposing and bridging the schism that exists between these territories of craft and painting. She selects patterns from a wide range of images that shift effortlessly between abstraction and figuration. Working from these 'found' flat motifs means she can focus on colour relationships. Langley is fascinated to see how a reproduction of a textile can be transformed through applying pigment on a flat surface and how, by merging two traditions, she can appropriate painting in to a feminine aesthetic.

Pip Culbert reduces the soft and comforting fabrics of our familiar life to their basic skeletons. A patchwork bed cover is deprived of its warming essence and becomes a geometrical structure of memories. Aprons, tablecloths, handkerchiefs, pockets are deconstructed, brought down to their seams; the remnants assume ghostly silhouettes and the holes become more evocative than the parts. Culbert translates cloth into a pictorial format, transforming three dimensional garments into two dimensional forms where depth is simulated and the viewer is invited to fill in the gaps. Her works emerge as stitched reliefs that relate to folk traditions.

Pip Culbert graduated in Industrial Design, Engineering, at the Royal College of Art.
Jane Langley trained at Chels