Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Painting the galleries red…

Tech-tile at Hove Museum & Art Gallery
12 July – 12 October 2008

Contemporary jewellery by Stephen Bottomley inspired by the textiles of Fortuny

Painting the galleries red…

I’ve been the curator of contemporary craft at Hove Museum & Art gallery since 2002. I arrived during its redevelopment when a lift was installed in the building, the first floor permanent galleries were all redesigned and the three ground floor temporary exhibition galleries refurbished. When we reopened to the public in February 2003, we showed an exhibition of retrospective and new work by jeweller Cynthia Cousens in the temporary galleries. They were painted a very tasteful Farrow & Ball shade of cream/green. The walls were neutral but paid homage to the history of the house by hinting at a historic colour. The house was originally built as a grand but domestic dwelling for the local Victorian landowner until it was sold to the council in the early twentieth century. The walls have remained that colour for the last five years. Until now.

I was hesitant at first to upset the applecart – why change something which seems to work so well with so many different temporary exhibitions? - but it now seems so appropriate to change the mood of the galleries for our second solo jewellery show here by painting the walls a deep and rich red colour for several reasons. The wall colour encloses and personalises the rooms, and this focuses our attention to the jewellery itself, which is lit dramatically and minimally in the spaces. This in turn highlights the diversity and variety of work that is found in contemporary jewellery, which is constantly reinventing itself, playing with new technologies and materials, and the rich sources of inspiration that jewellers call upon to create new work. Responding to a space through its decoration colours our perceptions of what we see in that space, hopefully casting a new light on how we view an understood discipline such as jewellery.

Stephen Bottomley’s Tech-tile collection embodies tradition and technology, the historic and the contemporary. He drew inspiration from the textile collections of Fortuny which he researched at the Fortuny museum in Venice. Fortuny himself experimented with photography and printing during his career as a textile designer at the turn of the 20th century. Likewise Bottomley has experimented in his own work with photo-etching, printing on titanium and silver plating acrylic for this new collection, working with computers to create a technological illusion of hand drawn design. Much of the work on display is theatrical in scale, giving each piece its own presence whether seen on or off the body. We have wall mounted two large acrylic and silver neckpieces and bangles not just because they look so good on the red walls but also because this amplifies their power as abstract visual sculpture.

In my job I am constantly driven by looking for and exploring different expressions and sources of creativity. I would offer up the Tech-tile exhibition as a thought-provoking example of this in the hope that you will visit it and enjoy it for your own reasons.

Polly Harknett is curator of craft at Hove Museum & Art Gallery, 19 New Church Road, Hove. BN3 4AB

Associated Events at Hove Museum & Art Gallery
To book a place please call 01273 290200

Saturday 27 September 2008
10.30 am – 2.30pm
Inspired Printed textiles with artist Lucy Brown
Taking tech-tile as inspiration, explore and design print patterns on textiles using mono, block printing and stencilling techniques
£20 per ticket

Saturday 4 October 2008
Stephen Bottomley in conversation with Margot Coatts
2.30- 4pm
Renowned writer and critic Margot Coatts leads a discussion with Stephen Bottomley about his career and latest body of work on display.

Hove Museum & Art Gallery
Free admission
19 New Church Road, Hove BN3 4AB Tel 01273 290200
Open Tue–Sat 10am–5pm, Sun 2–5pm
Closed Mon (inc Bank Holidays); 24 Dec (from 2.30pm), 25 & 26 Dec, 1 Jan

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