Objects, spaces, and the built environment are explored through processes; drawing, painting, printmaking, cyanotype. A play of light, a silhouette, a partially open door or a broken window frame. These objects or places can be read as metaphors for isolation, abandonment, and solitude. Amidst the howling storm of contemporary culture, the artist is separate, alone, a silent observer, cut off from the cacophonous noise of the human condition. Are we not all alone amongst the baying crowds?
Ed Vessel, neuroscientist writing on how people process aesthetic experiences, believes a lack of people in a photograph helps the viewer to imagine themselves in the image. “…we do inevitably project experience into there, our memories, thoughts about what might be going on.” The ability to project gives the viewer a kind of ownership over the scene, thus allowing a more direct experience. Empty spaces, devoid of human life, freeze the echoes of human existence.
Recent practical developments in the work are based on ideas from Gestalt theory, incorporating the Law of Closure. Elements are deleted, obliterated or obscured. By redacting essential aspects of a scene; a line, the form, a detail, the thing described becomes lost but more present. The sparsity in the work, that which is missing, forces the on-looker to fill in the gaps, facilitating a unique reading of the image, not as the artist saw it but as the viewer actively experiences it: If you record an absence, you also reveal a presence.
About the artists:
Full Circle is an artistic collaboration between Emma Bowater and James Millichamp.
‘We have always shared a fascination for the built environment, and particularly urban decay and dereliction. Over the past two-years we have been working together to exploit this theme through various processes, cross-pollinating and stimulating each other’s practice. We endeavour to capture the atmosphere of a space or object, alluding to the history lost through the process of decay. A disused building can act as a symbol for the temporaneous nature of man’s achievements, or as a metaphor for emotional abandonment. Through the works, we seek to document the vacant and transient environments of architecture, spaces and things. Empty spaces, devoid of human life, freeze and reaffirm human existence. Detailing remaining relics of human presence, the images emphasise a sense of isolation and abandonment; echoing the emotional anxiety of absence.’
Emma has exhibited in group shows in Aberystwyth, London, Birmingham and Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Based on her own artistic and teaching practice, Emma wrote a research paper on the educational applications of the process of cyanotype for the Merchant Taylors’ Company and continues to explore its properties as a means of photographic recording. She holds a first-class honours degree in Fine Art. Emma is Head of Art at Wolverhampton Grammar School, where she runs her own exhibition programme at The Viner Gallery.
James is an artist and educator, working from his own studio in Shropshire. He grew up and studied in Wolverhampton and achieved an MA in Fine Art. He has exhibited across the region and nationally and recently completed a residency at the School of Art, University of Wolverhampton. James curates and has organised many exhibitions around the West Midlands and beyond. He is Head of Art at Shrewsbury High School.