Heads and Tails is a group exhibition of ten artists exploring the interspecies bonds formed between people and animals and how they look within the home, the workplace or in the wild. The artists propose various disciplines that engage with human as well as animal behaviour and how that is represented in art now.
Heads and Tails is open from Saturday 9 September, until Saturday 28th October 2023, from 11am to 4pm three days a week Thursday, Friday and Saturday and ENTRY IS FREE. It is held at the Fermoy Gallery and Shakespeare Barn, St. George's Guildhall, 29 King Street, King's Lynn, PE30 1HA.
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Heads and Tails focuses upon depictions of people and animals, by ten contemporary artists based in East Anglia, each with a different approach to their subject. Included within the exhibition are portraits of people accompanied by animals, these may be domestic pets, working animals in their work setting, or wild animals in their natural habitat. Nine of the artists included are based in Norfolk, one in Suffolk. They have exhibited widely throughout the country. Their work is approachable, showing how animals interact with us and are impacted by human activity. Others are mythological beasts or symbolise a human quality. Media include painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, taxidermy, and clay modelling.
It includes paintings and drawings by John Kiki and Colin Self, well-established artists who have enjoyed long and distinguished careers. They are both in their eighties and have their work in national museum collections as well as private collections internationally. John Kiki is well-known for his lively part poured paintings of figures and animals in friezes, often painted on a large-scale. Colin Self is a Pop artist who has used advertising and discarded materials like used stationery, train tickets and chocolate bar wrappers to make his intimate paintings and drawings on paper, maquettes for sculpture and prints. Colin is raising funds for veterans by selling copies of a print based upon his original drawing on an envelope of a former soldier and his dog.
Emily Mayer was a taxidermist and sculptor who had a distinguished career traversing both realms. Emily’s life-like dioramas of animals are virtuoso examples of the techniques she was instrumental in establishing in contemporary art. Complimenting these playful tableaux will be carbon photographs by Katayoun Dowlatshahi. Her images are built up physically by building up layers as each photographic print passes through the printer, giving the image a slightly raised three-dimensional presence. They are highly detailed, she finds affirmative signs of life where most would see deterioration and death.
Sculptors Roger Hardy and Rachael Long both make constructions from found materials. Rachael Long has carried out several large-scale public art commissions like Lifeboat Horse in Wells-Next-To-The-Sea harbour. She has a fluid approach, using steel from scrap as well as other reclaimed sources that she transforms into an animal's thigh, or rib cage. Her observation of the animal is present in each of her sculptures. Roger Hardy takes water eroded or treated timber that he forages for and subtly alters, applying natural clay and pigments, creating deceptively simple figures. His figures frequently carry markings or take on a morphology from the timber that lend them animal qualities, like flight.
Louise Richardson has been making mesmerising images from found materials, like early black and white photographs, feathers, textiles, and articles of antique clothing for many years. Her work is presented as ‘memento mori’, framed assemblages that connect to tell a story by their close association. Jessica Perry makes drawings on paper that explore the difference between the lives of real creatures and their anthropomorphised versions in stories. These will be the subject of a forthcoming book. Nessie Stonebridge paints, makes clay sculpture, and creates drawings on paper often including 3D elements. Her work is expressive and finely drawn emphasising the qualities of the animals in moments of flight or fright, life or death, observed in the rural surroundings of her studio. And Rosie Phillips, the youngest artist in this group, is a self-taught Norwich-based painter who has worked to commission, painting contemporary portraits of people in the home, often with their pets, in their workplace and even on public transport!.