By Madeleine Brown (M.A. student, The Courtauld)
In the monochrome depths of the City, reside two enchanting surprises for art-lovers. The first is The Lloyds Club, a private member’s club housed in a grade II listed building; the second – and most important – is the exhibition, …And Wishing You Were Far Away, currently on show within.
Spread across all three floors, the show exhibits contemporary works by three artists, Roxy Walsh, Susie Hamilton and Persi Darukhanawala. Structured by the curatorial collective, Patch, and curated by their founder and director, Katie Heller, and exhibited artist, Darukhanawala, the exhibition combines great organisation of diverse artworks with a creative raison d’etre that results in a superbly synthesised and meaningful show.
The title comes from Darukhanawala’s love of Paul Weller and The Jam; “…And Wishing You Were Far Away” are lyrics from the 1980 hit That’s Entertainment. Regardless of how familiar you are with the song, this phrase ignites the imagination, encouraging the beholder to think about what it means to be somewhere else. Interpreting the artworks through this thematic prism means that the exhibition is highly interactive – a highly personal response can be elicited. Indeed, such musing should be all too easy for those stepping off the streets of rat-race London.
The exhibition really is a feast for the eyes: Daruhanawala’s use of geometric shapes and single lines executed in brightly coloured paints is highly appealing. With these minimalist markings on white backgrounds, the pieces powerfully encourage the viewer to look within themselves and consider what they can take from this image. ‘Wishing you were far away’ in front of these works has the capacity to transport you emotionally and imaginatively.
The minimalism contrasts with the thickly applied and luscious brushstrokes of Susie Hamilton’s representational yet abstract work which – with their colour, texture and content – are commanding for the eye and, at the same time, relatively certain in terms of where the artist wants you, the beholder, to end up when viewing these painted scenes.
Roxy Walsh’s pieces are similar to Hamilton’s in terms of their abstract representations although the medium is more varied, with use of gesso and linen fabric. The visual field of the exhibit pieces is relatively small too, inviting close-up inspection and personal contemplation.
Beyond exercising the beholder’s eyes, a plurality of the senses is engaged by the exhibition. On the top floor where Darukhanawala pieces are situated, music plays in the background. The experience of viewing becomes totally immersive, further provoking a mindful response from the viewer. It also reminds us that wishing we were somewhere else isn’t just about picturing somewhere else, it can be about smelling it, hearing it, touching it.
The lack of wall labels contributes to the personal meditation facilitated by this exhibition too. It is rare that a show can be so personally satisfying both in terms of aesthetic experience and the poignant meanings elicited in the beholder. With summer just around the corner, venture far away by all means; but do stop off at The Lloyd’s Club too – you’ll be surprised how far away you can get simply by experiencing the panelled walls and works that hang upon them.
*The exhibition runs until 1st July 2016.