Spotlight: Liz McGowan

Absence: Norfolk Chalk Reef
2 March, 2023
Absence: Norfolk Chalk Reef – No. 1, Liz McGowan
Absence: Norfolk Chalk Reef – No. 1, Liz McGowan
This delicate series of works on paper called Absence: Norfolk Chalk Reef, are an expression of absence within the marine environment. Intricately formed natural seaweeds and bryozoa collected by Liz McGowan from the tideline are laid on ground chalk pebbles, and then sprinkled with clinker, soot cleared  from a chimney, leaving a silhouette of each specimen.
The outlines of these marine plants break up and shift as the clinker sparkles in the light against the opaque chalk. The chimney soot represents the artificial waste materials that pose a threat to such ecosystems, and also what she acknowledges is her personal collusion in this process of entropy.
The sense of these marine plants disappearing also chimes with the fact that the chalk reefs remain beneath the water and are not visible apart from one or two days in the year. Their extent, approximately 20 miles, and extraordinary biodiversity has only been mapped by local divers in the last fifteen or so years.

 Absence: Norfolk Chalk Reef – No.8, Liz McGowan

C&C will be including this series of original drawings, by Liz McGowan in our next exhibition East to East: Art and Craft with an Asian influence, held at the Stables Houghton Hall from 23 April 2023.


About the author

Paul Barratt, Director and Curator at Contemporary and Country

Paul Barratt

Paul Barratt started working in contemporary art galleries in 1989, having graduated in Fine Art from Goldmsith’s, London University. He initially worked at Anthony d’Offay Gallery, one of the contemporary art dealers, who dominated the London art market in the 80s and 90s. He was approached by the Lisson Gallery to be gallery manager for the influential art dealer Nicholas Logsdail. This was followed by a short period in New York at Gladstone Gallery, to work for visionary art dealer Barbara Gladstone, working with the artist and filmmaker Matthew Barney.


On his return to London, Paul secured a place on the postgraduate curatorial course at the Royal College of Art, to complete an MA. After graduation in 2001, he worked as an independent curator on several projects in Oslo, London, Brighton and Basel, before joining Paul Vater at his design agency Sugarfree in 2004. He has worked with Paul ever since.