Catalogue essay by Della Goodham
To accompany the two person exhibition <Wall To Wall> (Lesley Halliwell & Una Rose Smith)
Goodham Gallery (formally VINEspace), Vyner Street, London (2006)
Una Rose Smith’s residency at VINEspace, in August 2006, results in a series of emergent forms that develop and incline to evolve. Lesley Halliwell’s triptych drawing, made using a Spirograph toy, has a sense of order and predetermined resolution.
Each of the eight wall paintings by Una Rose Smith positions itself in a line-up reminiscent of angels in a Giotto fresco. With anthropomorphic potentiality, they hang along the wall for life-support; some forms are embryonic, others have more maturity and resilience. One or two strive for self-actualisation – one of them embraces a needy partner, another has an appendage reaching out into white nothingness.
On looking at this line-up of ‘entities’, questions of origin and existence apply. Given the smallest encouragement, we readily requisition and apply human attributes and characteristics to understand and interpret abstraction – we can’t help it – and these pieces purposefully engage us in this process by functioning as models (or perhaps something more like distant reminders) of implicit emotions and fundamental states.
Constraints and limitations, far from being in conflict with creativity, make it more possible. Discarding all constraints and limitations may produce a one-off curiosity, but not a radical surprise of any value. The process that Lesley Halliwell chooses for making her drawings, places significant constraints and limitations on her practice. There are things that she knows (and we know) will happen – because we are familiar with the kind of pattern the Spirograph can make. In fact by choosing the Spirograph as a tool for drawing, she has put in place a very clear set of ‘rules’ for generating the work.
What she has also done is provide a secure platform from which unpredictable nuances of chance and decision can transpire; the pens run out and the colour needs to be changed, the paper surface is occasionally scuffed. The result is an apparently well-ordered piece of work, that offers uplifting and engaging surprises.
Comparisons with our use of language can be made. Every sentence is made using a prescribed system – a set of grammatical ‘rules’. It is not difficult to apply these rules to make an ordinary sentence, we do it all the time. It is more difficult to use exactly the same set of rules