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by jennie merriman

Over the last few years my work has centred on the development of weaving using a variety of unusual structures along with the integral use of acrylic sheet. As it has progressed I have created my own ways of working; no longer using traditional techniques I have found my own way, developing a new set of rules to inform the process.

Compositions start from a simple geometric basis and work towards the characteristics of harmony and discipline. Often starting with a two dimensional frame it builds upon itself creating three dimensional structures forming patterns of stability between the various entities.

During the development of 'Constructs', as a mixed media artist, I used a purely experimental approach and I saw how it was possible to ‘construct’ exciting and unusual pieces of work. Not only that, I saw how my life was also reflecting these developments and I found myself ‘constructing’ many new areas in my life that had never seemed possible before.

Early this year I became aware of ‘the moment’ and how each moment is potentially so different to all other moments. Visiting Tunisia in March was a lesson in how people can dramatically changes their lives, their countries and even the world in response to an event that happens in ‘a moment’ of time. Letting go of old fears, believing in the potential of the self and working with others we can begin to free ourselves and embark on a journey; a gradual ‘unfolding’ that takes time and understanding, in order to build and develop new lives, new understandings and new ways of doing things.
I was delighted to be invited to review the Reveal groups exhibition at Farfield Mill in Sedbergh.Having worked with them at Bankfield Museum, I was keen to see how their work had developed.

The Howgill Gallery impresses upon you a sense of openness and peace on entering, with sensitive lighting illuminating a beautifully and professionally hung exhibition, prompting impressions of a unified group with quality and presentation paramount.

Judy Merchant’s mixed media pieces were polished in presentation, each frame holding within it abstract shapes and smooth planes trapped in clouds of rich and soft colours with recurring circles. Titles such as ‘Impermanence’ and’ Unearthed’ spoke of expressions of inner views and otherworldliness. A larger piece within this collection may have allowed the theme and colour to sing out even more: some of the pieces seemed slightly constrained within the framing. Colour and felting are strengths in Fiona Rainfords work. Growth and decay in plants is explored with a playful sense, with seedpods and hanging forms created exquisitely and without tweeness.There were also subtle stitched landscapes, but it felt that there were too many variations of work for the space allocated.

Jennie Merriman has pushed her understanding of acrylic and is taking new risks with her work. Three pieces stood out: ‘beginning – construct’, ‘time – after the implosion ‘and ’time –moment’. These pieces play cleverly with structure and surface, the first two seeing the growth of artistic endeavour beyond the initial playfulness of the materials employed. There is a voice, in ‘time – moment’ which speaks of a wakening: a moment of clarification.

Wendy Rudd’s passion is paper, with new work taking a political line with themes of cuts in public services. Employing waxed, folded, stitched newspaper, the work entitled, ‘News Headlines’ is the stronger piece: the cascading effect like leaves falling and the tonal gradations proffer a sense of gloom. A skilled, effective piece. Jan Flamank also works with paper, expressing the female ideal portrayed in1950’s advertising through drawing and collage. Viewing these through acrylic blocks amplifies the artifice of the subject and collectively appears as an old fashioned cosmetic window display. It is also good to see work without fabric or stitch taking its place here.   

Kerry Mosley uses her knitted wire technique to produce portrait based work.In ‘Who’s Story’, a triptych, images and text are subtly integrated, but possibly the pieces could have worked better on a larger scale? Individual portraits, presented in simple black frames, combine sensitivity, insight and skill. ‘Enigma’ is a piece which sings out, made up of a face split between two frames placed side by side. Viewed from a distance you see the whole face; near to, you question what it is you are seeing. A clever piece, showing a development in Kerry’s work, going beyond material and process to express a concept more deeply.

Reveal’s exhibition shows integrity and honesty of which they should be proud. To quote from Jennie Merriman’s poem, ‘it is done   everything changes.’

Hilary Bower