New Topographies – Saul Hay Gallery
I recently attended the preview for Saul Hay Gallery’s latest exhibition “New Topographies” which opened on 17th March. The six exhibiting artists, Julian Bovis, Jen Orpin, Olga Woszczyna, Mandy Payne, Josie Jenkins and Andrew McIntosh – “Mackie”, “explore how we connect emotionally with landscape, the nature of beauty and to review our environment with a fresh perspective, contrasting the temporality of urban landscape with the ageless grandeur of mountains and wilderness”.
One of the highlights is a bespoke , site specific piece, (above) by renowned urban landscape artist Julian Bovis depicting the changing landscape of Manchester’s City centre viewed from the Castlefield Basin. An extremely topical piece given the controversy now surrounding some of the planned developments, and in my view, will be a piece of Manchester’s history. In an ironic twist, and on the same day the exhibition opened, one of the controversial developments had its planning permission placed on hold at the request of the developer whilst a review takes place.
Away from the urban landscape of Bovis, works by Jen Orpin take you to the Scottish Highlands. You sense the artists connection with the places she paints, and that there is an emotional elemental connection with the scenes depicted. When chatting to Jen, she explained that she likes to compress what is a massive view into a relatively small canvas without losing any of the grandeur of the mountain landscape or that feeling of man’s smallness against the magnificence of nature. Something I think she achieves with great effect.
In addition to my love of contemporary art I’m also a great photography fan, and I was delighted to see artist Olga Woszczyna on this occasion, using some of her photographic images of 1930’s Brutalist architecture from her visit to China as part of New Topographies. Olga’s work centres around the materials and textures of the built environment, trapping them within the image, and as she expresses it “within the still and flat image I compress the thought……bringing another reality inside a space”
Artist Josie Jenkins uses landscape or outdoor space as her subject matter and exhibited six paintings from her “Scrap” series in New Topographies, along with two layered box pieces using reclaimed pitch pine, Perspex, charcoal and ink, offering a view into mysterious landscapes.
Using the physical evidence of human behaviour, Josie is interested in making work which brings about the emotion of wonder. When speaking with Josie it’s clear that she is always looking to find the unexpected in often overlooked and maligned parts of our environment, such as the scrap yard in this series of paintings. I think it works too. The viewer is prompted to imagine the lives of the owners, what brought these battered pieces of metal and plastic to this unsightly end, will the parts ultimately live again when recycled?
Andrew Mcintosh, former winner of the National Open Art Competition, and exhibited in Miami and London, Andrew is showing three of his “Bandstand” series. The series combines images from LP covers which have some connection to the real Bandstands where they sit.
For New Topographies Sheffield artist Mandy Payne is showing a stone lithograph and block print, and two lithographs printed on paper and mounted on her trade mark concrete. In addition there are a number of Mandy’s giclee prints also available.
“New Topographies” is now on at Saul Hay Gallery in Castlefield, Manchester until 13th May 2017