Carole King and Glenn Ibbitson @ Crickhowell Studio Gallery
Mon. 11th – Sat. 16th Sept. 10am -5pm daily
This show represents a shared mini-retrospective comprising paintings, hand-bound books, artists prints and collages from 2000 to the present.
Both Carole’s parents were accomplished model makers and engineers, so it is no surprise that Carole uses a range of craft skills to produce paintings, prints, and hand-bound books.
A self-taught printmaker, she now designs and screen-prints the covers of her books which are bound by hand in various styles to produce sketchbooks, visitors books, photo and albums. Though she uses modern technologies to prepare her artworks, her executive skill set is resolutely pre-digital and is employed to follow threads of nostalgia leading back to a childhood delight in details.
This can be seen in her paintings, the produce of an artist inexorably drawn to the rock pool and the debris of the tideline.
Her recent tableaux, non-sequiturs located in storybook gardens and structurally dubious interiors, are housed in veteran film cameras, puncture repair tins and matchboxes. Anything that doesn’t move is likely to be incorporated into her artwork… Ridiculously prolific, Carole has driven her partner Glenn to issue the following plea; “please buy some of Carole’s work; we are running out of living space at home…”
Though on initial viewing, Glenn’s work may emphasise technical dexterity allied to rigorous observation, they are rich in subtext. Issues of political spin, people trafficking, terrorism, personality profiling, surveillance and incarceration are encapsulated in compositions confining nudes within crates and carnival performers.
The centrepiece of his contribution are the “Little Histories of Fragile Creatures”; A series of drypoint prints depicting characters who in their own time were famous, but are now almost lost to historical view. They exist in hidden niches of specialist subject knowledge, usually clinging on as footnotes to other people’s larger life stories. They have been collected into a volume. Each character’s image is accompanied by a short biography. There one will find an ectrodactyl who once duetted with Sinatra, a ventriloquist who defied gender stereotyping, a 20th Century Queen of Thebes and conjoined twins who fell fatally foul of theology.
However, as fellow artist Yvette Brown has observed, “believe Glenn’s stories at your own risk. His strong sense of narrative and concept might lead you down the garden path, or it might get you kidnapped by the circus. Glenn’s work as a scenic artist for the BBC (a shady organisation if ever there was one) allowed him to practice trompe-l’oeil and visual trickery on an industrial scale. He has since honed his skills so that he can now cackle maniacally whilst blurring the line between reality and illusion.”
Timelines and context may have been re-calibrated, but any factual modifications have been implemented in order to reveal some deeper truth…
His art has been compared to a self-assembly furniture kit – don’t expect to find all the components or an instruction manual in the box… “I am not interest in the ‘fast’ image where everything a piece has to offer can be absorbed immediately. I want to produce works which reward repeat viewings; revealing something new across time; the viewer offered incidental details to stumble over which may invite further connections. Not all the dots are joined. The work is only completed by the viewer adding his or her experience and sensibility to the accumulation of marks I have presented for study.”