The architecture and environment of the De La Warr Pavilion are at the centre of new commissions by Alison Turnbull and Matt Calderwood who each present solo shows in the galleries this autumn. Paintings, drawings and sculptures respond to the history, space and elemental forces at play around the building inviting active looking and quiet contemplation.
Alison Turnbull is known for the intricate abstract paintings and drawings she creates from found materials such as cluster diagrams, architectural plans, star charts and maps. Her exhibition for De La Warr Pavilion presents several new large paintings and works on paper exploring ideas around observation, orientation and perspective.
Turnbull’s starting point for her two new paintings are plans drawn up by architect Erich Mendelsohn. The first, his elevation drawing for the Einstein Tower observatory (1921) in Potsdam, Germany, designed to measure sunlight and starlight; and the second, his plan of the upward and downward trajectories of the circular staircase of the De La Warr Pavilion (1935). Turnbull transforms these functional plans through a disciplined, painstaking process into precise, austere and poetic works balancing the cultural and the scientific with carefully chosen colours and a strong graphic element.
Other paintings in the show include North and South (2011), derived from a constellation map of the northern and southern hemispheres; Lighthouse VII (2012), inspired by the plans of a seven-storey lighthouse, now abandoned; and Ecliptic (2013), referencing the constellations of the Zodiac on the ‘ecliptic’, the imaginary elliptical plane created by the path of the sun.
The show also presents some of Turnbull’s works on paper including Drawing Tables (2010 – ), an ongoing series of drawings made on printed stationery collected from around the world and displayed in six elegant vitrines designed by the artist. Made in response to the subtle differences in graph papers, exercise book pages, tables and scores, the seventy drawings introduce a dialogue between the mass-produced the hand-made.
In contrast, Matt Calderwood’s new works open the artistic process up to chance, allowing the coastal weather and light to choreograph his work. An experimental continuation of Paper Over The Cracks, Calderwood’s show earlier in the year at BALTIC 39, geometric structures made from welded steel clothed in billboard paper have been transformed by four months’ exposure to heavy wind, rain and salty air on the outdoor roof terrace. When inside, their decomposition stilled, they appear distinct from a site-specific installation made from different stocks of white newsprint applied directly to the walls of the space. As the low winter sunlight penetrates deep into the gallery, the exposure leaves delicate imprint traces on the paper, patterns that evolve throughout the three-month duration of the show. These new commissions represent Calderwood’s move toward a more formal aesthetic, although he continues to experiment in a more orchestrated way with chance and performance.
Coinciding with the exhibition programme, a new series of 6-week interventions in the rooftop foyer reflect themes of architecture and design, informed by the interests of the featured artists. Opening on 9 November, the first display is a selection of hand-coloured photographs from the 1930s depicting the Empire Exhibition in Glasgow in 1938, selected by architectural photographer Nigel Green. Following this, are a set of photographs commissioned by the Architects’ Journal of the interior of De La Warr Pavilion, taken by photographer, painter and Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy.
Alison Turnbull’s show is accompanied by a publication about the Drawing Tables series with writing by Briony Fer.
Matt Calderwood’s exhibition is accompanied by the first publication about his work, containing critical essays and exhibition photographs. A De La Warr/BALTIC co-publication supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, the book is available from February 2014.