Eastbourne Open 2022

03.02.2022 - 03.04.2022

Eastbourne Open 2022 brings together 11 Sussex-based artists, selected by Adam Spain (Exhibitions Manager, VOLT), Dawn Dublin (Director, Unveiled) and Polly Wright (Programme Producer, Brighton Centre For Contemporary Arts) from an open call held last year. The artists work across a variety of media and explore themes such as materiality, cultural identity and the environment.

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Gabriela Pelczarska's (b.1996) sculptures juxtapose different materials to question  their functionality and political potential. Her practice engages with structure, materiality and the interplay between recognisable and abstract.

In Confab, this exploration uses a language of tension through a delicate sculptural balancing act, creating a dynamic state of equilibrium in which forces both battle and neutralise one another.

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Modern Relics by May Hands (b.1990) is a series of works made with stretchers and a variety of objects collected over many years. The series reflects on our relationship with materials, both man-made and organic, and how the properties and resistances of such materials influence the technologies and languages that we use today.

 

Individual elements carry their own histories and narratives, but their placement relative to one another sparks contrasts, connections and relationships; they can be interpreted within a number of social and political contexts and, just as importantly, through the viewer’s own associations and memories. Modern Relics celebrates and reveals new qualities within Hands's chosen materials, opening up questions about how society constructs and articulates value and desire.

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Charlotte Winifred Guerard’s (b.1998) painting practice seeks to find narrative suggestions without an identifiable external subject matter, expressing emotional responses through abstraction and formalism. In Her Pink Dress She Swam Under The Bridge illustrates a figure and a scene without directly depicting either, extracting visual poetry from an implied narrative.

 

Winifred Guerard incorporates elements of dance and vivacity in her processes, making reference to the gestural values of Abstract Expressionism. Her approach however is one of intimacy and, despite the monumentality of her larger canvases, prefers a delicate application of paint to convey her reverence for the medium.

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COMMON PLACE is a collaborative online artwork created by Ashley Sheekey (b.1995), Jessica Page (b.1995) and Chris Corby (b.1991). It reconstructs a short walk taken in April 2019, contemplating our experience of public and private space, and contains wandering trains of thought that arise from reflecting upon the ordinary and everyday.

 

The work began as a walking diary made by Sheekey, but developed over time and was expanded upon to bring in elements of each of the three artists individual practices and skills. Also included in the exhibition is EOP, a drawing by Sheekey that brings together three points of interest observed while walking.

 

COMMON PLACE is interactive: use the headphones and mouse to experience the work in the form of a functioning website.

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In Heraldic Bird, Lovely (Clouds) and Heraldic Eagle Holding Rose, Harry Hurlock (b.1992) subverts the traditional associations of heraldry by depicting feudalistic symbols in a dismantled state. Through a process of research into the decline of heraldic symbolism, and the restructuring and removal of the holders of institutional power, images of different heraldic animals appear in various states of entropic decline.

 

The graphic visual language and overt irreverence for the subject matter address centres of power and control, questioning traditional notions of history, cultural identity and national pride.

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The work of Imogen Patel (b.1999) expresses her experience of representation within both the White British and Indian communities and her struggle to fully identify with either. Patel represents dual heritage through the process of collage, which enables her to alter the placement of both urban and rural landscapes.

 

You Must Wear The Most Beautiful Saris juxtaposes two locations isolated from their wider environment to mirror childhood memories of segregation and alienation. The work is part of a series that draws from and addresses Patel’s earliest memories of discrimination by depicting scenes from her childhood that house feelings of isolation and trauma. Although these are difficult memories to confront, they are integral to accepting, and eventually celebrating, elements of an identity that were once cause for fear or shame.

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Becky Hancock (b.1998) presents the familiar with a sense of detachment, absence or ambiguity, often by manipulating space, structure and perspective. Domestic scenes give rise to a friction between absence and presence, providing space for the viewer to project their own narratives and find their own meanings.

 

Recent works, made during lockdown, reflect upon themes of isolation, sentimentality and longing. A Cup Please? addresses the ergonomics of a chair and challenges our understanding of utility and value, as well as the perceived harmony of the domestic. Comfort Or Conflict creates an atmosphere of anticipation through a familiar yet empty scene, revealing the domestic as a place of reflection.

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Painter Molly Stredwick (b.1998) presents everyday scenes and objects in a way that is decontextualised and fragmented. Disembodied limbs, floating furniture and spilt food and drink are placed on stark backgrounds to evoke a sense of disconnection or detachment from the world around us.

ouch! presents an ambiguous scene which something has occurred but we do know what; the sparkling backdrop, pooling wine and wonky wooden chair create a contrast between glamour and mundanity, straddling a line between the humorous and the unsettling.

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Valerie Savchits (b.1993) draws upon fictions, feelings and fragments of memory to create her own mythological system. Her work is influenced by legends and folklore from Russia and her native Latvia, as well as the shapes, textures and colours of the landscape.

 

Savchits has recently reintroduced the Slavic mythology that she was brought up on into her work, imbuing the fantastical nature of her images with a personal narrative and sense of reflection. Addicted To Shiny Things is inspired in part by a song lyric in which the singer describes a crescent stabbing him in the chest. The text in the lower right corner translates to ‘shine’ or ‘perfect’. Meanwhile, I Don’t Have Any Secrets depicts dark and eerie Latvian forests and a mysterious folkloric figure from stories Savchits heard as a child.

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Alice Walter’s (b.1992) work depicts organic forms that evolve from painting to painting, generating a cyclical energy that is constantly self-renewing. Walter works very spontaneously, with the specific direction of individual artworks often unknown; impulse overrules method so that feeling itself can both inspire and become the subject matter. Similarly, the surfaces Walter uses are varied and irregular, often being extended or cut away as an image develops and grows. This process attempts to create images that balance a feeling of wholeness with a defiance of explanation.

 

Abra Village depicts a habitat that feels hostile or chaotic, but is nonetheless a place of being and becoming. An Exercise in Hegemony is contrastingly calm, showing a careful placement of objects that indicates an unknown system or symbolism. The arrangement is potentially fixed in place through both an enchanting magnetism and a chokehold of control or stasis, and touches on the possibility of the confusion between triumph and stagnation.

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Phoebe Cunningham’s (b. 1995) experimental filmmaking and video work weaves narratives through ecological encounters, bodily experiences and an obsession for collecting and nurturing natural ephemera. Recent work is inspired by walks with Cunningham’s late father along coastal paths and evokes many of the associated physical sensations and vivid emotional responses.

 

I Ramble On follows the digressions of a walker contemplating their own relationship to the environment and its inherent pointlessness, as they see it. Collaging together footage shot across a six month period, the film depicts the Sussex Downs in a variety of weathers while the hiker dissects Rebecca Tamás' Strangers  - a collection of essays examining the intersection between human and nonhuman - as a starting point into ecological thought.