Sophie Herxheimer & Gigi Sudbury: Go I Know not Whither

15 July – 5 August, The Art Stable,  Kelly Ross Fine Art, Child Okeford, Blandford, Dorset, DT11 8HB. Private View on the 22 July 11am-3pm. Conversation and poetry reading with Gigi and Sophie at 3pm on Saturday 22 July. Please contact the gallery to reserve a place. Open Thur – Sat 10-3.

Sophie Herxheimer brings her customary energy to these new collages, which fuse her precision with colour and composition with her continuing fascination with poetry, and her own writing.

The series she has made in ‘ghost collaboration’ with American poet Emily Dickinson, pictures the reclusive female poet as having a vast inner landscape, mirroring her emotional range, by using cut up duotone tourist photographs of the Alps. Herxheimer has then written poems into these imaginary worlds: placing words on oversized raindrops, surreal advertising hoardings, or in sampler-like sewn on patches from a shared girl-scholar’s trousseau.

The thoughts are distilled and integrated, at home in the rocks, clouds, blossom, mountains, ready to be absorbed by the wandering viewer’s mind. These works spring from the artist’s readings of Dickinson but the images and poems are all Herxheimer’s own.

Parallel to these pieces, Herxheimer has created a series of collages without text, which relate to Fairy Tale. We see a lone female figure walking on a mountain ridge amongst stone pots and pans, while below her in the valley a chalice sits glowing with the golden elixir of life. She may never come across it. In another, the Goose Girl stands, transparent in pencil, still exchanging stories with the decapitated horse she used to ride as a princess. The works often feature two characters, suggesting inner dialogue: the artist in conversation with the gigantic crow that rules her from within, the artist negotiating with all the artists of the past, with planets made of glue, with politics and expectations. These collages show the strangeness of the ordinary, the journey we are all on; using playful tropes like improbable scale, words that run counter to image, anti-naturalistic colour, to subvert logic and invite the imagination into bread, daisy, street.

Gigi Sudbury’s paintings focus on the moment we allow a synthesis of intuition and experience to take hold.  In the lone figure she recognises an act of defiance, the shedding of  limitations and the move into a moment outside our hare-brain lives.  Here a bird perches close, moonlight catches a reflection, flesh becomes transparent, shadows becomes solid.  Her paintings are the start of an adventure when time ticks by without measure.

Sudbury paints mountain tops, rivers, skyscrapers, a father and angels, the moment between day and night. She uses fragments of words or letters to mark our desire to speak, but words aren’t always enough. She learnt from Piero, Chagall and DuBuffet that painted feelings are different.

In this collection Sudbury alludes to today’s digital revolution moving beyond our ability to answer the ethical questions it raises.  She explores our technology driven world with the age-old discipline of  mark-making.  Much from our human history holds us together but while cultural lore adapts with the times it also prolongs ideas that are false or extraneous.  Here she asks where and what we will become: half human, half computer, a being of a once fairy-tale future?

Sudbury’s paintings are optimistic and a celebration of human endeavour.


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