The poet and visionary William Blake, who envisioned ‘England’s green and pleasant land’ amongst its ‘dark, satanic mills’ once saw a tree full of angels in Peckham Rye. Just up the road in Camberwell, local artists, many of whom have never exhibited before, to showcase their vision of landscape, re-imagined in an urban context.
For organiser Laura Moreton Griffiths, the exhibition, in the first place it is about giving artists, many of whom juggle with domestic responsibilities and part-time jobs, ‘a space in which to be artists’. But, she says, she also wanted to reclaim the idea of landscape, often overlooked with its slightly twee, romantic connations. Her own work focuses on historical and political issues such as the 18th century land enclosures. She writes:
For many of us, ‘landscape’ conjures images of green rolling hills, with sheep grazing in the distance. Yet…the pastoral idyll is a far cry as we live cheek by jowl in burgeoning cities. Landscape is therefore, a place we escape to, both physically and emotionally. It has come to exist largely in our minds, and holds our histories, memories, hopes and anxieties.
Jackie Parsons picks up the idea of subverting Gainsborough’s Mr & Mrs Andews, in this case with animals made of recycled textiles – old socks and jumpers often, she tells me, literally rescued from rubbish bins – including an old toile de joie curtain of her grandmother’s decorated with peasants.
Flora Cooke, who created the windowpiece for the exhibition out of old police evidence bags, reclaims the police incident tape that litters her Peckham landscape, that shouts out even months later “Look! Something happened here”, cleans it, weaves it, frames it. Plastic sheep wander through Sophie Eade’s empty dolls’ house; Sorcha Rooney’s luminous oil paintings pick up the pastoral theme. There are reconfigured maps by Terry Ryan, which question concepts of boundary and ownership, ceramics from Georgina Corrie and much much more.
From Blake to Space is on until Friday 17 December at HOUSE, 70 Camberwell Church Street, London SE5 8QZ, 8.30am-4.30pm. Curated by Laura Moreton-Griffiths and Sophie Eade