Staff here are very willing to take visitors downstairs to look at small works in storage. A spare hour in Falmouth found me in my very own private view of Tacita Dean, Henry Moore and Kurt Jackson, accompanied by a knowledgeable staff member.
As I’ve moved through this course, discovering artists and artworks, I see a pattern in what interests me most: the artist’s response to place. Writing up my notes here I realise that once again I have been drawn to the artist’s response to place. This has fed in to my own drawing – the light and dark of the space we are in (or which side of the ‘screen’ we inhabit) – and whether we interpret that as safe or threatening.
Light glows from behind these massive boulders. Moore has gently moved from the palest grey to bright white just around the boulder, giving these stones their own aura. Where the boulders meet, confident dark lines allow a flash of light to seep through. It is these two techniques that have created this image. Without them it would still be a wonderful composition of shapes but the magic would not be there. In focusing on the immaterial (the light) the rocks have come alive. From my immediate notes: “so convincing…3-D, popping out…I could put my hands around them”.
Seeing my interest in this print, museum staff showed me three works by Tacita Dean, that I don’t think I would ever have come across otherwise.
- A sequence of stones: Riesenbett II (floating), Großteingrab (floating) and Hünengrab II (floating) by Tacita Dean via Falmouth Art Gallery
These works seem small given their subject matter, but that instantly creates questions, and has us thinking about what we are looking at, its relationship to space, place, to us.
These are drawings, the medium is described as: Blackboard paint, fibre-based print mounted on paper and the dimensions: 1) 22 x 44 cm; 2) 23.4 x 44.8 cm; 3) 23.6 x 45 cm
What is immediately striking seeing these in person is the 3-D effect. These stones seem to pop out, they float in the empty blackness. They almost move, vibrate. This effect seems to have been created by a dense black line around the stone, but also by a gloss treatment on the drawing, against the mat black.
I saw them lined up horizontally. They sit at different levels within the frame which only adds to the sense that they are moving, floating. While one is more central, two appear to be heading off – stage right.
These drawings feel full of love and awe. The painstaking process of drawing the rocks reminds me of the way Vija Celmins works. In the video (TateShots: Vija Celmins – ARTIST ROOMS) Celmins describes a sense of being present in the image as she works and of a putting something back that a photograph takes away.
Tacita Dean studied art in Falmouth, and these drawings are inspired by the quoits and ancient granite stones found in Cornwall. The connection between artist and place feels strong in these drawings, though the stones don’t lose their sense of ‘otherness’ either.
Kurt Jackson spent a winter at this granite quarry in Cornwall and produced a series of work which really needs to be seen in person to appreciate the layers of texture: soft smudges, spatters of light and deep dark depths. There’s a sense of how the quarry cuts through the earth, reshaping the land. Workers are anonymous and have become part of the earth; walking blocks of granite themselves.
YouTube. (2017). TateShots: Vija Celmins – ARTIST ROOMS. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsbkzSrCdIg [Accessed 23 Aug. 2017].