As part of a double-header, The Flowers Gallery in Hoxton is staging in its upper space Tom Lovelace’s first solo exhibition here for four years. While the Ken Currie show downstairs comprises straightforward narrative paintings with albeit dark subtexts, Lovelace’s work could not be more different.
It’s a multi-layered, multi-disciplined series of sculptures and performance, site-specific, with photography at its centre. It takes the idea of theatre as a space where the performed, the imagined and the real all combine as a concept. It’s one that makes the show stimulating though something of a challenge.
Tom Lovelace originally studied photography, gaining First Class Honours from the Arts University Bournemouth before studying Art History at Goldsmiths. His photographs are not conventional. For example, he has taken this picture of his parents’ house in the Fens in East Anglia, the house in which he grew up until he was 18. This is no nostalgic trip. The windows and door have been blacked out with drapery, the kind you’d expect to find in a photographer’s dark room or in a theatre. It’s a kind of contemplation of a place where he developed from child to adult.
“This is me trying to re-encounter the house as this performative space and using drapery to represent it in that light,” he says. Curtains in a theatre, the idea goes, can both hide things but also create infinite spaces. He first got the idea from seeing an old photo in the V&A collection by an unknown photographer who blacked out the entry points in order to focus more acutely on the fine architectural details of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
Lovelace uses drapery again to “interrupt”, as he calls it, photographic images as part of a series of small collages involving backdrops of skies. The material is physically present, not photographed, and hangs loose. By doing so, he adds a new dimension both physically and conceptually. “I was interested in that act of looking at skies but, significantly, I’ve used drapery again to interrupt and obscure these experiences so that you change their nature.”
In a way, Lovelace has done the same thing but on a grander scale with a wooden floor that occupies a part of the gallery. He built it bespoke and then cut parts of it up to make a set of rather lovely collages, as above, which he then photographed. Some of the motifs are repeated on the floor which he re-constructed.
The idea is that you then get a sense of standing on the elements that made up the collages. The tiny space that exists behind the drapery in the small sky collages has been replicated as the wooden floor on which you’re standing. Once again, theatre is invoked as any theatre floor is constantly undergoing scene changes.
Intervention is also an aspect of the performance element of the show for which artist Alexandra Davenport has been co-opted. At regular intervals, her arm appears through a hole in the wall and plays with the hands of a clock. “I’m interested in performance but not as a spectacle. I’m interested in trying to weave the idea of an intervention performance within the fabric of a space or a building or an artwork. This plays with the idea of time. She (Alexandra) punctuates both the fabric of the wall and the idea of time as well. I’m thinking about the idea of the body moving between public and private space.”
This performance will take place every Saturday for the exhibition’s duration.
Combining photography, performance and sculpture while focusing on conceptual ideas of theatre is an ambitious undertaking and one which is difficult sometimes to get one’s head around. A lot of thought has gone into the concept and its manifestations. To what extent it works is highly subjective.
Interval is showing at Flowers Gallery, 82 Kingsland Road, London E2 8DP until 27 April
All images are courtesy of the artists and Flowers Gallery London and New York