A review of Claire Beynon’s current exhibition
The Arthouse, Christchurch
26 August – 13 September 2009
Claire Beynon has developed a sculptural side to her art practice. A swollen teardrop of a plumb bob plummets down to hover above a large spirit-level construction in her recent show. These two essential builders’ tools form the backbone to her new series of works. The tools carry a certain severity along with their authority, as tools that decide with irrefutable exactness – as Claire states ‘...there can be no arguing with the simple pronouncements of these two fundamentally reliable tools of measurement’. With that said, one can draw analogies to things certain, corrected and aligned in individual and collective living. Claire’s exhibition is also a form of calling for correction, response and the balancing acts that are involved in approaching issues – global or otherwise.
The metaphors are clear, and nestled within the works are explorations and manifestations of the issues at hand. Small environments, mountain regions, ghostly blues, lead and copper colours frame and reiterate the motif of the spirit-level and plumb bob around the walls of the gallery. Some of the works tell tales of scrutiny – everything is laid bare before the tools of levelling, many of the works showing unlevelled surfaces and alignments – indications of the skew-whiff world we inhabit. The swinging pendulums in ‘Gathering Momentum’ cut through space from differing angles – gravity and magnetism in dialogue. Other works display harmonious relationships and centred beauty when all is aligned –‘Containing the Storm’ for example.
A further depth and sense of authenticity is added to this show with the relationship between actual science and artistic processes. Beynon put the spirit vials, used in her sculptural works, to a rigorous test – an experiment that involved plunging them eighty feet below sea level on her second research trip to Antarctica. The spirit vial itself is layered with metaphoric associations – even without the weight given to them by Beynon.
The combination of meticulous care (what could be sacred geometric attention to detail) and Beynon’s recognisable mark-making in soft pastel seems part of the balance - a combination of opposites. The conceptual element of this show comes through strongly in the statements of her sculptural pieces in the space.
Reviewed and written by Joanna Osborne
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