The Flat Pack Sessions at Delta House Studios, London
18 February - 6 March 2016 curated by Geraint Evans
Participating artists: Jake Clark, Laura White, Paul Housley, Martin Newth, Michael Samuels
This exhibition considers the material culture of suburbia. The suburbs are an indisputable site of consumption driven by an ever more pervasive shopping economy. Flat pack furniture, collections of porcelain ornaments, Chamois leather, tidy gardens and garden sheds describe a form of aspiration and perceived conformity. And yet there is creativity within suburbia, as Roger Silverstone writes: “The shared products of contemporary material and symbolic culture are chosen or discarded, arranged and rearranged according to desire, itself structured by class or ethnicity. Suburban streets are complex and subtle signifiers, offering, for those who can read the signs, delicate statements of style and status.” (Silverstone, 1997 p. 6/7)
Michael Samuels’ practice can be characterised as a form of contemporary bricolage, which utlises industrially produced Modernist furniture. Elements such as cabinets, tables and sideboards are liberated from their traditional role, cut up and reconfigured into structures that no longer have a utilitarian purpose.
Laura White is interested in our relationship and negotiation with the 'stuff' of the world, from the first-hand encounters with objects and matter to the mediated experience of images, such as those found in books, on posters and the internet.
Martin Newth’s work tracks the historical roots of the photographic process and raises questions about the aesthetics of the medium. For ‘Shed’ a typical garden shed was converted into a camera obscura by inserting a simple uncut spectacle lens into the door.
Paul Housley works and reworks his paintings, referencing art history whilst seeking to reinvent it. Urgent, immediate depictions of domestic ornaments, broken prams, piles of skulls and a plethora of other images emerge from the layers, traces, lumps and marks of restless making.
Jake Clark’s paintings depict the houses, people and belongings of British and European seaside suburbia. In ‘Low Rise’, an essential possession of many suburban homes - the flat pack cd rack – is painted in an overly optimistic tone. The inverted reference to J G Ballard’s ‘High Rise’, the sickly palette and splatters of paint undermine this symbol of domestic order.
The Flat Pack Sessions is part of Wimbledon College of Arts paintingresearch’s yearly thematic: Punk in the Suburbs.