Babelling (Sluice Art Fair)
Terrace, Birmingham, took part in Sluice Art Fair 2013 along with over thirty other artist-run galleries from around the world.
Creating a voice within the multi plural languages of many art forms and their histories is a challenge of choice and discovery. ‘Babelling’ is a hybrid of the three art practices of Ian Andrews, David Miller and Paul Newman. Its visual noise is a discordant symphony, a Frankenstein like bolting together of jagged and gestural energy, sugar coated colour schemes and brooding dark matter.
The Tower of Babel and its biblical and historical art reference points is a cornerstone for this work. It is structured into what appears to be a haphazardly precarious tower, with the artist’s work joining together and overlapping, speaking simultaneously and over each other. It nods to the Old Testaments narrative of the workers on the Tower of Babel being transformed into tribes speaking independent languages. An initial confusion of competing and jostling leads into finding a degree of poise and awkward harmony in something that is not complete, that has a potential for change and evolution.
The coming together of the artists involved was instigated by artist / curator David Miller, the director of Terrace art gallery in Birmingham. Housed in the listed Victorian ‘Great Western Arcade’, the first home for Terrace was originally designed as a programme of window installations, set into to the complex and elegant polygon structured window bay of an empty shop unit. In its concept, design and programming, David intentionally blurred the line between artist and curator. His sensibility for the visually dramatic, performative and evocatively sensual has led to a personal selection of artists with which to align, creating an independent island within a sea of revisited conceptualism and minimalism.
During 2012 individual installations by Ian Andrews and Paul Newman at Terrace were part deconstructed slices of artists’ studios, part gallery show, given a new aesthetic imbedded between sheets of glass of the already intricate shop front. The lighting, reflections and refractions added elements of the virtual to already complex physical forms of the artists’ work.
The glass and perspex cased work of Ian Andrews led to the discussion about recreating an essence of the Terrace shop front gallery as a cabinet of curiosities for Sluice. As the idea and prototype installation developed it naturally took on a life of its own, and what evolved was a more organic, and on first appearances, unwieldy structure. A full on cacophony of expression, ‘Babelling’ reflects these artists interests in cubism, surrealism and performance and has led to an unclassifiable work that is much a mixed media drawing as it is a sculpture. It is embedded with painting and painted surfaces, digital portals and beguiling darkroom photography. Each of the artists is represented as themselves as well being limbs and organs of the whole beast. They have their own voices but are singing from the same cramped page. Within a surface of chaos there is for the viewer an intricate order to interpret and intriguing paths to take.