Review: Mount House Exhibition

Radiohaze, by Grace Thomson

Mount House Gallery, 2nd–16th June 2015

We’ve all heard about the perils of the second novel, too often considered not as good as the first. This may be down to the reader but it is the author who is left with the problem of where to go next. Similarly, each year the Marlborough College Artist in Residence has to follow on from an exhibition that marked their arrival only ten months previously with something new.  However well they might have been received first time round it is this second exhibition that inevitably provides the bigger challenge.

With Radiohaze, Grace Thompson’s Mount House Gallery finale, the artist chose to consolidate and build from her elegant opening show entitled “Meetings”. There, a collection of paintings referencing decorative arts, the joy of pattern making and Ivon Hitchens’ twentieth century English Pastoral sat comfortably in the gallery.

In Radiohaze Grace showed an impressive breadth to her work, the knowing and empathetic nod to the country house that she recognized in the Mount House Gallery was gone. Sixteen wooden boards not only hung but also leant against the walls and mantlepieces around the gallery. These new paintings were not restful they were in debate like a collection of people whose conversation was of the different values of shape, pattern and colour.

Drawn from her experience of listening to the radio while working, Grace describes Radiohaze, “as you tweak the tuner between thumb and forefinger a sentence snatched from between the crackle leads you away down a path of your own.”  It reminds us of the visual clutter we see every time we walk down the street; turn on the computer or mobile phone.

While the gallery installation was a calculated success for the artist, could the paintings work individually?  After the show while the pictures were being taken down, it was thrilling to see them in a new array that brought out a comic and joyous side – The contrasting use of different materials harmonized and jarred in a glorious fusion.

Artistically it was a successful year for Grace who was also shortlisted for “New Sensations”, a national competition for emerging artists that showcased her work at Frieze Week and in Victoria House, Bloomsbury. It will be exciting to see this artist develop and continue along her ambitious path.

Ray Ward

Click here for a gallery of images.

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