Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A Sweco Selection - my new exhibition in Sweden!

3536 - Holy Island, England, 2009

Back in February I was contacted by Sweco Sundsvall Konstförening - a Society funded by and organised by Sweco to promote the appreciation of the visual arts.
They felt my images would work well in their offices in Sweden, based on the company's activities working with engineering and design to create sustainable urban development.

Over the last few weeks I have been working with the Society to remotely co-curate a selection of images from my archive. The exhibition was designed to show a good range of work that would be attractive and appropriate in the office space as well as work conceptually within the context of Sweco's work in the environment.

Led by the Art Society's choices, we created a collection of images everyone was happy with. I visited the offices in Sundsvall, Sweden last week, and we hung the 28 pictures as a series of smaller image selections all around the offices. Again, I worked together with a member of the Society to create the final order and arrangement on site before committing to the final hang.

Robin Wootton from Sweco Sundsvall Konstförening had this to say -

I’m very pleased with the exhibition. Paul has an eye for detail that enables him to highlight aesthetic qualities in everyday situations. This should be important for everyone.'

3588 - Beckenham, England, 2009

This was a really different way of exhibiting for me, it was a very interesting process to essentially hand over the curatorial reins to somebody else, and they found some connections in my work that I would not have made myself. This is also my largest solo exhibition to date, and my first outside of the UK, so it was exciting for a number of reasons!

There was a launch event too, to tour and discuss the exhibition with the Society. These evenings are usually a chance to catch up with art loving friends as well as meet new people and encounter new opinions about the pictures. I love to hear what other people think of my work, and as I knew no-one personally this time there was plenty of time to talk about the work. The discussions that arose often had an environmental, geological or heavily practical theme, and there were certainly some Sweco style questions I hadn't heard before.

I'll run through the sets of images below with some brief thoughts and recollections of the launch night. I've shown them here in the same configurations as they appear on the walls - you can click on each set to enlarge it.

There's also a full online catalogue for the show on my website here, where you can find out where each picture was taken, and also take a much more detailed look at them individually. There's a Facebook catalogue too here, where you can like your favourites and leave comments if you wish.

This first group is mainly greens and grasses. Talk at the launch event centred around that stranded yellow bollard and identifying just what those colourful spots were. With the bollard, I was asked if I staged my pictures at all - I absolutely don't. If you want to know what the spots are, ask me in the comments section below!

This being Sweco - a company that has to know all about what goes on underground - there was also a bit of discussion about the blue panel and how the water supply works in the UK compared to Sweden! 

There was a darker section of corridor in the offices, and remembering how well the Evening in Venice show worked - an entire show of very dark pictures visible only by torchlight - I knew this selection of four dim pictures all about light would work well there. A good example of a lesson learned from having limitations applied to your work, and your exhibitions.

These work really well as rich physical prints - the full effect of the light and colour against the dark can't be matched on a screen. 

This selection has some old favourites. After my comprehensive Doors and Windows shows, I am a bit wary of revisiting those pictures, but having had them selected by the Art Society I was happy to recontextualise some of them in this mini exhibition of six images. This set was sited in the main kitchen area, and the bright, airy colours were important to enhance the relaxed atmosphere. 

This is a curious little set of four that was hung as you see it here in a square formation. I think it's a great example of how we were able to bring different images together in this show to create what felt like small collaborations between the pictures. These four work really well I think, and I'm not sure why. The warning sign was a popular choice - everyone seemed to find it as unsettling as I do.

I also had to do a little explaining about the lido In Broadstairs, and the grand Victorian English tradition of taking time by the sea. Since those heady times nature has reclaimed the lido, making it little more than a square puddle on the rocks instead of the deep bathing pool it once had been. I think this is one of the reasons it was selected, as was the tree root image perhaps, both pertinent to Sweco's operations and thus hopefully of interest to their staff, in however abstract and subconscious a way.

The remaining pictures in the show were all pairs, selected to work off each other as well as individually. These were set at the bottom of a staircase, and from a distance looked almost like the same image twice. Juxtaposing the two kicked off conversations about city life versus the coast, and also how the make up of our cities, the materials themselves, are from nature, the sand not that different to the concrete.

Another pair. These two work so well together - the match was made by a member of the Art Society - a great curatorial spot!
It seems satellite dishes didn't take off in central Sweden as much as they did in the UK in the late 20th Century, as people were surprised to see so many in one place - a fairly common sight in and around UK cities.
A pair that swirl and dance around each other. The amazing brickwork sparked a lyrical chat about the quality of handbuilt Industrial Revolution era factories and industry compared to today's more flat packed, utilitarian architecture.

These last two are of particular interest to the Rail and Road workers, and both use the everyday languages of transit to create mystifying images that exist within that structure and work as graphic images too. In fact, it was pointed out that the final image bears an uncanny resemblance to the Sweco logo, a full 2 years before I had seen it!

And that wraps it up. I am grateful to
Sweco Sundsvall Konstförening for this unique, unusual, interesting and rewarding opportunity. It's strange to think of my pictures all so far away now I'm back in the UK, but I know they are in good hands!

As always, any comments are welcome below. And as always, thank you for reading.

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