PRESS RELEASE: Wednesday 24 August
A solo show by Jessica Albarn
-24 September 2016
Private View and Press Preview: 1 September 2016
“The bee knows no borders only corridors of flowers” Jessica Albarn
OPENING in September at London’s gallery is CREATION, a new solo show by artist Jessica Albarn.
CREATION is a visual record and documentary of the development of a living meadow in Devon, which Albarn describes as “the perfect antidote to life in London”. The meadow is home to many insects and animals, which are the focus of Albarn’s visual studies.
Focusing on ecology and the renewal of life, CREATION features a range of mixed and multi media. From large paintings on canvas to fine pencil drawings that Albarn is known for, the show will also feature a stop animation film and a piece using electric ink which brings its own unique aural element.
Albarn commented: “I’m very excited about people seeing the show as there are a number of experimental techniques that I’ve never used before. I’m particularly proud of the stop animation film, as it was a real labour of love. It involved hours on end in my blacked out studio – and a huge amount of concentration, but I’m really pleased with the outcome and seeing my drawings move and come to life.”
Musician and composer Nick Powell, who has worked extensively in theatre on productions in the West End and on Broadway, sensitively created the soundtrack to the film with his band Oskar.
Bees, spiders, butterflies, mice and birds such as the common Wren feature in CREATION. The artist’s delicate pencil work highlights the fragility of these tiny creatures, while through multimedia such as the electric ink piece, which transforms movement into sound, their energy in life is realised on a number of different levels.
The electric ink piece began as Albarn experimented with different ways of recording life within the meadow. Discussing ideas with friend Rob Lawrence, who works for audio specialist Bowers and Wilkins, Albarn discovered a new way of communicating sound visually. The artist incorporated a layer of electric ink within an archive sound box through which sounds of a bee, a grasshopper and a wren can be heard. Visitors to the show will be able to listen to the sound of the insects through a set of headphones, which are activated by movement.
As well as utilising new technology to bring to life her subject matter, Albarn has played with some age-old techniques such as etching. CREATION features three glass etchings, a process Albarn hasn’t used since studying art at college. She commented: “Etching is a wonderful process and an ancient form of printing. With the acid and fire there’s a real alchemy to it, which I’ve really enjoyed getting back to.”
Stemming from Albarn’s appreciation of a species so crucial to the survival of the human race, the meadow is a conservation art project designed to encourage two rare types of bee, the Blaeberry bumblebee and the Shrill Carder bee. The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust advised on the meadow set up and the types of flowers and grasses that should be planted.
Albarn commented: “I’ve long drawn inspiration from nature, particularly bees, and the meadow is my way of giving something back. I wanted to do the very best to encourage wildlife and support the ecosystem so enlisted the help of conservation experts. Now in it’s second year, the meadow is still in development but CREATION tells the story so far. My work is an archive of the land in art form.”
The meadow is covered with thick wild grass and flowers but is also a work of art in itself. Albarn explains: “There are six hexagons cut into the land to create a structural element from aerial view. The shapes represent the geometry of life and how we are all connected. Geometric elements feature in many of my works.”
With recent political events, including Brexit, Albarn feels the general mood in London is heavy and takes solace in the meadow. She said: “The meadow’s peace and tranquility is something I dream about when I’m not there and with my work being on show in London I hope I bring a little slice of it back to the city. We’ve all got so wrapped up in politics recently; it’s easy to forget there are larger forces at play around us. Nature can be brutal; it teaches us about life and death, resilience and renewal. It’s something us Londoners perhaps don’t get enough of and it really is quite humbling.”
CREATION runs from Friday 2 September to Saturday 17 September at 42 New Compton Street London WC2H 8DA www.rhodescontemporaryart.com
Notes to Editors
About the artist – Jessica Albarn
“As we now all know the bees are under serious threat through a deadly combination of pesticides and fungicides used in crops, as well as other polluting factors including car exhaust fumes. They also face a loss of diversity of quality food sources as monocrops take over more land. The human race is dependent on these pollinators to grow food and without them we will begin to starve, alongside many other species. I want to pay homage to the hardworking bee by drawing as many as I can.” - Jessica Albarn
Sister to blur frontman Damon, Albarn lives in Newington Green in London and has three children aged 21, 18 and five years old.
Albarn’s love of nature has been there since childhood. She comes from a farming family and although born in London, grew up in the Essex countryside until moving back to the city later in life. Both her parents are also artists.
“Nature and animals are a part of me. If I wasn’t an artist, I’d have worked with animals in some way.” - Jessica Albarn
About the Gallery
Rhodes Contemporary Art is an independently run, commercial art gallery located in the centre of London. The gallery’s aim is to develop the next generation of artists through exciting and different exhibitions, events and exclusive publications. Featuring contemporary, urban, street and pop art, the gallery embraces visually engaging exhibitions from a hybrid of artistic disciplines.