Go Figure: Guggleton exhibition and considering traditional and conceptual figurative work

On Friday I had the pleasure of attending the opening of GO FIGURE, at Guggleton Farm arts, as both an exhibitor and someone with a passion for figurative arts. The GO FIGURE exhibition is the culmination of the summer open call, selected by Wendy Elia, David Cobley and Anthony Connolly, of work that have their point of origin, or departure, in the human form. In this weeks post I wanted to share a few of my favourites from the exhibition and consider the ways in which more traditional life-drawing style pieces work alongside more abstract and conceptual pieces.

Jane Collins (Painting) and Rose Eva (Sculpture)

Jane Collins (Painting) and Rose Eva (Sculpture)

As you will know, my practice is ultimately a direct examination of the human form, both visually and contextually, and in a way that is original and different to more traditional approaches to depicting and exploring the human body. I was thrilled to have my work selected as part of the exhibition and it was brilliant to attend the opening, to see how my work was received alongside other figurative pieces. The works in the exhibition are varied and all stunning in their own right, and it is so fascinating to see how other artists view and work with the concept of the human body.

Below I have included a few of my favourite pieces and details, and I would highly recommend checking out the exhibition, which runs until 1stSeptember. All details at www.guggletonfarmarts.com.

These two works by Jane Collins and Rose Eva are a perfect example of the way in which different figurative works can work alongside each other. Eva’s pieces are carved from natural materials which often influence the forms she creates - giving them a slightly more abstract feel - while Collins works with quite traditional life drawing techniques, using tone and colour to depict the body.

Zita Saffrette

Zita Saffrette

I am also really intrigued by the inclusion/obliteration of the head in each work. Often, traditional life drawing ignores the head or face, while sculptors are more inclined to include it, but these pieces challenge this and affirm the chosen medium of each artist.

This piece by Zita Saffrette was one of my favourites from the entire show, using gouache and charcoal to depict the female form in an interesting, semi-abstract manner. This idea of a trace of the body represented through tone is really fascinating, and I love the way that the physicality of the figure is shown through the ‘gaps’ and variation of tone.

Tracing the body and investigating it’s physicality is something I have been intrigued in for a while, and particularly in my considerations of the painter-subject-viewer relationship, it is interesting to consider how the physical act of painting is in itself an act of the body, and Saffrette has investigated this by extending the use of the hand, to the use of the whole body, possibly derived from the work of Yves Klein.

Millie Gleeson

Millie Gleeson

The final piece I want to share with you is one of Millie Gleeson’s portrait pieces. Chosen as the - well-deserving - winner of a solo show at The Gugg, Gleeson’s works incorporate her hand-made costumes, body art and performance to depict strong female characters. I love the integration of materials, which make the figures seem to jump out of the canvas, yet maintain an intimacy and bold presence.

Overall, the exhibition is a fantastic representation of the breadth of mediums and concepts that can encompass figurative art and investigation. To have my work included in this group exhibition is a real honour and also has given me an amazing variety of inspiration for my own practice.

Felicity Beaumont