Southern Guild presents Solace, a group show launching all new work by more than 20 of its artists, opening on Thursday, 29 October 2020 (until 4 December). This is the gallery’s first physical exhibition since the nationwide lockdown was implemented, following its reopening in early October.
For Solace, Southern Guild invited its artists to create a stand-alone work inspired by this unprecedented period in our history, or to contemplate a new beginning or direction for a body of work. All the pieces in this show have been made during lockdown, sometimes under difficult or restricted circumstances that saw the artists move into their studios or set up makeshift workspaces at home.
The challenges presented an opportunity to rethink their approach, work on a different scale or experiment with new materials. For many this has been a formative time of focus and concentration, propelling their practice forwards in unexpected ways. Despite the fear and fragility that many face, the pandemic has also been a crucible of creativity.
For Solace, sculptor Stanislaw Trzebinski veered away from his usual material of bronze to design an intriguing 3D-printed chair resembling a piece of washed up red coral. Artist-blacksmith Conrad Hicks has hand-forged a copper sculpture containing a light source that is both innovative and primal in its design, while master furniture-maker Gregor Jenkin has ventured into wall-based sculpture. Figurative sculptor Justine Mahoney has opted to reveal the inner working of her process with a work in ceramic (a precursor to being cast in bronze), while Xavier Clarisse has hand-crafted a honeycomb-like chandelier featuring a complex interplay of light and shadow.
Assemblage artist and sculptor Philippe Bousquet has crafted a throne-like chair constructed from existing sculptures, abstract artworks, precious stones, and a myriad found objects and treasures that he has collected over the years. A coherent, self-contained piece as well as a complete exhibition in itself, it envelops the sitter like an exoskeleton or “exospirit”. Bousquet’s throne is a poignant statement of loss and perseverance, a tribute to the indomitable human spirit of creativity.