29th May 2021 - 26th June 2021
Dorrie King and Susan Thomas in the Studio Gallery.
Resonating with the work of both artists, Erosion encompasses the action of wind and waves on the natural environment as well was the degradation or loss of something precious.
I moved to Cornwall on retirement from Leeds Arts University. After 30 years in art education, starting as an art teacher at Summerhill, then in Further and Higher Education, I decided to focus more on my own interdisciplinary art practice.
I studied at St Martins, Bath Academy, (BA Fine Art Hons 1st), Bretton Hall, (PGCE), and Leeds University, (MA). Whilst my student days in the 70s and 80s were crucial, I have not stopped learning.
After retiring, I enrolled on another postgraduate course in order to extend my interest in the fluidity of glass. Like so many artists, I am fascinated by the sea. – how to draw its movement? The patterns left by the outgoing tide on the beach are for me a manifestation of the sea drawing itself. My glass sculptural pieces are casts from these tidal patterns. This laborious process involved me taking alginate casts on the beach and from this fragile material I made plaster and flint moulds – to be filled with glass and fired in a kiln. During the firing process glass flowed where the sea had been, preserving the ephemeral. The moulds did not survive!
Since moving here, I have developed my own form of printmaking. I am interested in letterpress. I dismantled worn out family heirlooms and made use of combinations of cross sections of Georgian chair legs, cut to type height, and set these in chases. My resulting intaglio prints reveal eroded edges caused by previous generations and in addition refer back to my glass sea studies. This work, which also has at its core embedded histories, provides me with platforms for further explorations. I have returned to this again and again, bringing influences and experiences to this work. A visit to the Bauhaus; the Cornish seascape; the Naum Gabo exhibition at Tate St Ives; hours spent in the Hepworth garden; even Lockdown; have all had their impact, and have kept this moving forward.
Over the years I have exhibited my work in numerous group exhibitions, mostly in the UK, but also in Spain, and planned for this year – Russia! Amongst these are Leeds City Art Gallery; The Hepworth Wakefield; Tetley Arts Centre (Leeds); West Yorkshire Print Workshop (I was shortlisted for the Flourish award); Lottie Inch Gallery (York); Masham Gallery; Staithes Studio; Cornwall Open Studios; Penwith Associates Exhibitions; Tate Staff Exhibition – Environments (St Ives); Staff Biennale – Movement, Tate Modern, (London).
During lockdown I took part in the online project – Inside Job Collective run by Tate Modern and am currently working towards another Tate exhibition ‘Love and Loss’. I also took part in 20:20 a print competition which tours nationally and internationally. My submission ‘A Nod to Naum’ for 20:20 was inspired by the Gabo exhibition at Tate St Ives, and is due to be shown at the Moscow Print Workshop in October 2021 – which for me is the perfect destination for my homage to this Russian artist and by connecting with other printmakers from all over the world – a great way out of Lockdown.
– Dorrie King.
From my mid-teens I knew I wanted to do something creative.
Set design was my original plan and then graphic design, before Edinburgh School of Art, known at the time for its emphasis on drawing skills, introduced me to Furniture Design. A BA in 3-Dimensional Design at Leeds followed, and an Msc. in Sustainable Architecture much later.
It was only when I ‘ran away to St Ives’ that I found the time and space in my life to revive the exiting and creative ways of thinking that I experienced as an art student.
Porthmeor Beach and the Island was the first sight that grabbed me, and it became clear that the only thing to do was to paint it. And paint it and paint it, the work becoming more abstracted as time went on whilst keeping the power and simplicity of the image.
After a while, when the miracle opportunity of a studio just down the lane from Barbara Hepworth’s house became available I found my focus changed. I was immediately ‘taken’ by the lane and the large wall that surrounds her garden – which had become the view from my studio window. It was majestic in the same way as Porthmeor Beach is and I was captivated. I studied it intently, first standing in the street doing numerous pencil drawings to get it fixed in my ‘eye’ and then charcoal drawings, some of the larger ones worked on upstairs in the studio until finally working on the paintings.
Parallel to my love of these aspects of St Ives is the knowledge that this wonderful place, its apparent immovability over long periods of time and reliance on granite as a building material – is in reality fragile.
St Ives has with withstood the pounding of the Ocean onto its shores for eons, fish has been hauled into boats, minerals hard won from its mines. However we now know we are in a position of transition, we look around us and recognise that change which has always happened, is both accelerating and becoming more significant.
‘the sea is rising’ is a recent digital adaptation of work done around 2 years ago (originally shown at an exhibition at the Penwith Gallery). It was part of a series of 8 paintings shown as a block, using strongly dissimilar colours – reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s screen prints of Marilyn Monroe in the 60’s. This particular painting was entitled ‘red hot’ and it is hoped that this re-purposing re-enforces the need to make our voices heard, to take action in fact, on behalf of our planet.
‘does it matter’ is a collection of photographs taken over two years as I walked the streets and beaches of the Downalong area. Each time a scrap of plastic or waste was noticed it was photographed before being picked up and kept for display. Very often these apparently inconsequential scraps were near drains or beaches and would have inevitably found their way into the sea, becoming a negative part of our marine environment.
‘the sea takes a bite’ the most recent work, is in response to a storm a while ago now which caused a landslip of part of the Island and scoured and exposed a new face – no longer the softer surfaces covered in plants with their roots helping to bind the surfaces.
This newly exposed material is strikingly different in colour and texture being the brown of bare earth with clear lines of the different strata of rock and stones left sticking out precariously waiting for the next erosion by wind and waves.
I hope you enjoy our show and find something interesting and thought provoking during your time in the Gallery.
Take care – as people say these days – of both yourself and our precious planet.
– Susan Thomas.