ATOI Speaking between... 27 Oct 2018 - 3 Nov 2018


Speaking between somehow the spaces

The Averard Hotel, 10 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3LH

Private view Saturday 27 October 2018 12-6pm

Performances from 2 to 4pm
Exhibition runs until Saturday 3 November 2018 by appointment only

‘Speaking between somehow the spaces’ brings together new sculptural and performative work by collaborative duo Amy & Oliver Thomas-Irvine. The works play with the structural decay and architectural elements of the Averard Hotel and explore support structures and tensions surrounding us above and below the earth’s surface, in our past, present and future. The works exist in states of equilibrium, in which opposing forces are balanced or rely on each other.

The title – 'Speaking between somehow the spaces' – is taken from the notes of poet W.S. Graham, and speaks to the artists' underlying interest in tectonic, architectonic and anthropological tension and release. Earlier in the year Thomas-Irvine were invited by Sam Buchanan Watts to respond to prompts left behind by W.S.Graham for an upcoming publication. In the words of Sam Buchanan Watts: “W.S. Graham’s composition process was highly visual and self-critical – the scaffold for the sophisticated lyric self-conscious he developed can be seen in a set of notes-to-self and in writing and art-making prompts embedded in his correspondence. His writing was woven with visual art: as he said, ‘[v]isual with words appearing together is not necessarily one medium illustrating the other. It is always a montage.”

‘Bideford black’ plays a central role in this exhibition. Extracted from a rare seam in North Devon, Bideford black is a coal-like clay pigment formed 300 million years ago under intense tectonic pressures, grinding and compressing the fern lignin into flat hexagonal platelets, similar to that of graphite. This platy structure may have been exaggerated by the shearing and sliding action of the earth as it was compressed deep within colliding tectonic plates. The mineral consists of roughly equal parts of carbon, silica and alumina – the carbon providing the rich black colour which led to Bideford black’s use in painting battleships as well as Max Factor mascara.

Bideford black here is used to coat the painted stages on which CrossFit trainers will perform. Dune Field I sees two men engaged in a tug-of-war while in Dune Field II the female performer drags a large piece of slate in circles. In both instances, the physical exertion and balance of forces leaves haphazard traces as evidence. The diamond in Black Diamond, installed in the entrance of the Averard Hotel, was produced artificially and entirely from the same Bideford black.

Thomas-Irvine live and work in Cornwall and formed in 2008 due to a shared interest with the physicality of space and creating live sculptural environments. Within their work they aim to create shifting layers of connectivity and tensions; where image, form, structures and material can relate physically, politically or symbolically to the body and its present changing environment.

Whilst their work is concerned with formal aspects of sculpture and space, such as weight, balance, line and form, the core of their work stems from an interest in tensions that rupture those ideals and equilibria, contextually and physically. It is this state of physicality that interests them and how material and form can be suggestive to that change and resonate within the every day.

This is the third presentation by Amy & Oliver Thomas-Irvine at the Averard Hotel.