The Long Dark

The Long Dark
The Long Dark

A new exhibition which promises to blend modern art with medieval inspiration, and give several emerging artists their UK debuts in the process, is coming to Kettle’s Yard this summer.

The Long Dark, which opens on July 17th, will bring together the work of nine contemporary artists who work in a range of media, including painting, sculpture and photography.

Together, their pieces explore a revival in late medieval, gothic art and ideas, while at the same time bending the style’s aesthetic rules for a modern audience.

The starting point for the exhibition is "On The Nature Of Gothic Architecture", an 1853 essay by the influential critic and thinker, John Ruskin. Writing at a time when architecture and the decorative arts in Britain were being remodelled by mechanical methods of production, Ruskin championed the pre-modern workmanship and approaches of the Gothic era, equating this with a "truthfulness" in the way in which buildings of the period in particular were designed.

Drawing on this tradition, the artists in The Long Dark employed the devices of 20th century modernism, but also a deeper, Gothic sensibility. Alongside modernist themes, the work offers hints of ideas, values and even superstitions belonging to a much earlier period.

The pieces range from textured tapestries, to paintings, to installations. While the styles of the different artists are therefore mixed, the freshness of their approach ensures that the exhibits work together.

The blend of modernism with medievalism can be observed in the fusion of geometry and religious iconography or folk roots, or a combination of modern and pre-modern production methods. Examples include the religious undertones of Kalin Lindena’s flag installation, which includes fragments of stained glass, or the mixture of time-honoured handicraft techniques and synthetic materials employed by Alexandra Bircken in the course of creating her woven screens.

Other artists explore the darker elements of ’Gothic’. Maria Loboda, for example, will be producing a ’poisonous’ wall-drawing on the gallery walls and a display of flowers in the house with a particular message, based on the Victorian language of flowers.

The overall effect is that of a slightly surreal, almost carnival atmosphere, which uses pattern and structure to create bold, absorbing pieces which, in spite of their varied nature, offer some reassuring regularity either through their Gothic tessellation and form, or their medieval references.

The exhibition was curated by Michelle Cotton, an independent London-based curator and writer. It was previously shown at the Hatton gallery in 2009, but Kettle’s Yard is also displaying a number of new pieces previously unseen in the UK.

The exhibition will run from 17th July to the 19th September, 2010. Kettles Yard is open Tuesday-Sunday, and bank holiday Mondays 1.30-4.30pm. Admission is free.