Words by Bryony Rosier, Wednesday 12 July 2017
Sharing is caring dear traveller; each week, a member of our knowledgeable team of locals shares their insider knowledge on what’s hot and happening in and around our nests.
Gearing up for the exciting, impending open of our new Kings Cross development, the Cuckooz team has been scouting the area in search of the best places to eat, drink and see.
Today we visited the 2017 Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait prize, situated in the Piano Nobile Gallery, Kings Place. After navigating the frankly cavernous venue; which hosts a number of creative enterprises and events, including a conference centre and three gallery spaces, we travelled to the lower mezannine where we found the exhibition, set across two floors and featuring the work of 120 British artists.
The first piece to catch our attention was ‘Tintrovert’ by Emily Sparkes, a Birmingham based painter influenced by Queer culture and portraiture. The giant 186 x 236 painting demonstrated not only Sparkes incredible skills as a colourist, but as a storyteller too. Her work felt contemporary, intimate and insightful – it allows the viewer to view the work as if they were a participant in the scene. Perhaps one could discern that the mirror propped casually in the background of the studio, featuring the artists reflection as a photographer, negates the possibility of abject voyeurism, whilst alluding to the process behind the artwork itself. Either way, I felt the painting presented a joyful encapsulation of the chaos of youth, and it was possibly one of my favourite pieces of the entire exhibition.
Though perhaps a little macabre in subject, I was delighted to see one of my favourite painters, Ken Currie, exhibit his piece ‘Study for the Slab’; a portrait which appeared to explore the artists’ confrontation with mortality. Occupying the same space as Joseph Hillier’s ‘Transformer’, which for me communicated ideals of transcendence, the two works created an interesting juxtaposition.
Continuing our travels around the gallery space, we were struck by how well curated the show was. Though chaotic in composition – all the paintings were clustered together in groups – there was a certain charm in discerning moments of stillness amongst the discord; Claire Eastgate’s difficult and painfully human portrait ‘She’s gone’ or Lewis Hazelwood-Homer’s troublesome ‘Slip of the wrist’ provided the show with a certain depth and a valuable insight to the life and relationships of the artist.
We ended the show on a high – feeling quite inspired and discussed our sudden urge to pick up a paintbrush and create ourselves; possibly the greatest result a show can hope to have – and so, dear reader, we encourage you to do the same!
The 2017 Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize is showing now until the 22nd September at Piano Nobile, Kings Place.